For the first time this season Napoli would be spotlighted on Monday night. For Napoli, of course, their priority is to catch up to Juventus one Giornata at a time. This Giornata, however, would not be as effortless for Napoli, as they had to travel to the Stadio Atleti Azzurri d’ Italia to face Atalanta, which is a notoriously difficult ground to play at. Napoli would jump ahead early in the second minute but would be followed by a back and forth battle by the home side. Atalanta would go on to tie in the second half, but Napoli would find an unlikely hero who emerged for a 2-1 victory.
Ancelotti went with the same formation (4-4-2) and players he used for the midweek match against Red Star Belgrade.
Ospina got his second start of the week Monday and had a solid performance again by the Colombian goalkeeper. The lone goal allowed this match was a great play by Atalanta’s Duvan Zapata. Rumors again have swirled that Alex Meret is ready to start for the next match, we shall see what the week holds for this position.
This unit would have the difficult job of being the last line of defense to Atalanta’s quick counter-attack. Atalanta’s high press also forced the defenders to make quick decisions on the ball. Maksimovic had a fairly quiet match, he had a tough job as Atalanta seemed to want to attack from the left side. The left side would also be occupied by Albiol on the left, he would not have his best match. Albiol could still be injured from the Champions league match but seemed a step off. While being the victim of the Duvan Zapata goal in 56 the minute. Koulibaly and Rui were rocks in the back and also contributed to the defense. Elseid Hysaj subbed in the 77th minute for Maksimovic.
They would have the job of neutralizing the Midfield for the counter-attack. They would struggle for most of the night. Wednesday night in Champions League we saw a vintage Hamsik, against Atalanta it was more of the present Hamsik, he had some bad passes and miss chances for goals. Allan got beat a couple times in the Midfield and turned the ball over, he was still relentless all match long. Callejón again had a bad performance, more missed opportunities and horrible mistakes on the pitch. Fabian Ruiz was the bright spot of the night for this unit. He got the match opening goal but was on the attack all night. Zielinski would sub in for Fabian in the 77th minute.
Not the usual by our favorite attacking duo, but still were contributing all match long. Insigne right away found Fabian for the first goal. In the 33rd we suffered a bit of a scare as Insigne ran into Atalanta goalie Etrist Berisha on a long ball from Raul Albiol, Insigne Would Hurt his knee on the collision. He received medical attention and headed back to the pitch after a couple of minutes. Mertens has a couple of chances in the match, but couldn’t get one in. Milik subbed in for Mertens on the 82nd minute and would become the man of the match, notching the game-winning goal in the 85th minute.
For Napoli they survived a tough challenge against Atalanta, which reminds us again, you should never sleep on any Serie A squad. Napoli gets four days to prepare for their next opponent, Frosinone. If we learned anything from the last two matches for Napoli, you must prepare the same for every match in Serie A. Important to focus on Saturday’s match because we all know the big matchup against Liverpool is around the corner….