Days after Christmas, in the San Siro, hosted the match of the week: Napoli vs. Inter. Serie A gave us a Christmas treat by scheduling a whole round of matches, this match would be the cream of the crop.
For Napoli, it was a test. They are the team in second and inter is the team and third, but with the news of Juve drawing to Atalanta made the importance of this match even bigger.
Ancelotti again would have a 4-4-2 but would surprise us with a couple of player selections. They at times would appear to be in a three-back set. Inter as per usual would lineup in a 4-3-3 with some high pressing.
Alex Meret- 7
This match would be a huge test for the young Italian Goalkeeper as Ancelotti would start him over Ospina. Overall it was a solid match by the young Italian keeper, despite allowing a late goal. He never seemed rattled in the big stage of the San Siro. Interesting to see if Ancelotti continues with Meret as the top option at Goalkeeper.
Mario Rui- 4.5
With Ghoulam playing some serious minutes the last couple of matches, Ancelotti had no choice but to go with the fresh legs in Rui. He again was an achilles heel for Napoli. Out of position, bad decisions with the ball, and constantly looking for a call instead of playing through the ball. Napoli may honestly need to look for another option at left back in January.
Kalidou Koulibaly- 9
Man of the match in my opinion, for the simple fact he got dealt with a disgraceful treatment in this match. First off on the pitch he was spectacular as per usual, making crucial plays and providing on the attack. He would face a questionable double yellow that would send him off in the 80th minute. He would exit the pitch to chants of racism.
Raul Albiol- 6.5
Solid match by the Spaniard as he had the tough assignment of the Inter Attack lead by Mauro Icardi. With Koulibaly also playing up at times adds more responsibility for Albiol. With the Koulibaly ejection, it made his job even harder.
Jose Callejon– 5
One of the surprise moves by Ancelotti Would be starting Jose Callejon at the back line for the first time this season. It’s worth a shot to try playing him in the back as it complement’s his strengths, as he is strong making runs out wide. Unfortunately, due to the Hamsik injury, it would force him to move up to the midfield. He would have opportunities but again could not capitalize, as well as creating costly turnovers.
Piotr Zielinski- 5.5
He would be very helpful in the battle of the midfield, winning back balls all match long. He does continue to be inaccurate with his shot, missing a couple of times in the match, including a golden opportunity before the Inter game-winner.
Marek Hamsik- N/A
It wouldn’t be fair to rate Hamsik when he, unfortunately, suffered an injury in the 21st minute, cutting his match short. Before he got hurt he did look slow. He seemed to have suffered a hamstring injury and his return is unknown at the moment.
Michael Allan- 6
Allan continued being a dominant force in the midfield, chasing after the ball all match long. With the injury to Hamsik, it would force him to play deeper in the Midfield. Overall solid match by the Brazilian.
Fabian Ruiz- 6.5
Fabian was in the right spot all match in attacking, he couldn’t get a shot in the net but had his opportunities. With the Hamsik injury, he played inside more and even played higher up, playing in a true attacking midfield position.
Lorenzo Insigne- 6
The prince certainly had a match to forget as his scoring drought continues. He would get a couple of shots on goal but nothing seems to threaten, inter did a good job of not allowing too much space for Insigne as well. He would be sent off in the last minute of the match by another questionable red card.
Arkadiusz Milik- 6
Milik would also have a difficult job of getting a clear shot on the good Inter defense. He would mostly play central forward in the match. Milik will have a big role in the next coming matches.
Nikola Maksimovic- 5.5
He would be thrown into the lineup in the 24th minute due to the injury to Hamsik. He would play the right-back role, with his entrance in the match it would push Callejón up in the attack. They would use a lot of three back sets with him in the match. Overall he played well in the match.
Dries Mertens- 5
He would come on in the 70th minute for Arkadiusz Milik to add some sort of spark to the Napoli attack. When he plays alongside Insigne the like to press up high. He would add to the attack but couldn’t be the difference maker.
Faouzi Ghoulam- 6
With Koulibaly getting sent off, Ancelotti Would lean on his best available defender. I’m sure Ancelotti Would have rather rested Ghoulam but he was needed. He would definitely add a spark to the attack making runs out wide but was subbed in too little too late.
This match was the highlight of the Serie A version of Boxing Day. Unfortunately for the league, this would give a bad black eye to the image. Koulibaly getting sent off will be topic of debate for this match. Should he have been given a yellow to begin with? But even worse was the Inter Milan Ultras who were chanting racist remarks to Koulibaly. Koulibaly getting the red card was a misunderstanding, Insigne also getting a red in the last minute was disgraceful as Inter’s Keita Balde provoked Insigne by rubbing his ear. There has been bad blood between the match official Paolo Mazzoleni and Napoli. Could that have an effect on the cards given in this match? This an emotional match for Napoli, it’s important that Ancelotti gets his group together and moves on. They are back in action Saturday as they host Bologna, great opportunity to bounce back.