Napoli entered somewhat of a tricky test last night at the Stadio San Paolo versus Parma who, early on in the season, look destined to stay up in the Italian top-flight after an historic promotion run back from the depths of Serie D. However, the Partenopei ensured the Crociati were not to replicate their impressive victory over Inter by taking control of the tie from the opening whistle – and putting Roberto D’Aversa’s group to the sword by way of a 3-0 beating.
Ahead of the major clash with rivals Juventus at Allianz Stadium, manager Carlo Ancelotti took the opportunity to provide much needed breathers for some of his regular starters by continuing to rotate. A 442/433 hybrid took the pitch against the Gialloblu, with a notable inclusion of debutant Kévin Malcuit earning the nod at right-back.
Together with Fabian Ruiz, the Frenchman formed a great partnership on the right side and turned in a shift worthy of a claim for minutes.
For Napoli, it was an all-around commanding effort, putting their stamp on the match four minutes through a Lorenzo Insigne tap-in; his 5th goal on the season. Up front with Polish striker Arkadiusz Milik, the Italian raised his game to another level and continues to show why he can bear the weight of the armband when Marek Hamsik is ready to pass it over full-time.
Circling back to Milik, who has shared the number nine role with Dries Mertens, the Pole’s brace in the 3-0 win proved his quality as a striker, and that the injuries of the past are completely behind him and will not derail what hopes to be a long-lasting stay in Naples.
From Ancelotti’s point of view, this result was near flawless and a perfect way to transition into the bout in Turin. The club did not have to grind and extend themselves too much to the point where the quick turnaround to Saturday forces Ancelotti into any doubts over his squad’s preparedness from a fitness perspective.Napoli firmly took control, ran the show and positioned themselves well to approach Juventus at full strength.
With a sneak peak towards the weekend, Ancelotti has a few key decisions to make with his shape and personnel.
Over the past two matches, the 59-year old has put out both a 4-2-3-1 and 4-4-2. Of course, alterations are made in-game and within certain phases in and out of possession. At this point, it is fair to make the assumption that Ancelotti will field something close to the following XI: Ospina; Hysaj, Albiol, Koulibaly, Rui; Allan, Hamsik, Zielinski; Callejon, Mertens, Insigne.
There is the possibility Ancelotti rolls with Milik based not only off his outing vs. Parma, but the matchup he presents against Juve’s central defence. His aerial presence could be a major asset for Napoli who may find it difficult to play through the middle, and instead, be forced out wide to swing in chances.
Additionally, Ancelotti has looked the Polish international’s way to start before summoning Mertens off the bench as a way to provide a different look and dynamism late in affairs. Then there is the option of swapping Raul Albiol for Nikola Maksimovic who seems to be flourishing with a new lease on life at Napoli after a shaky start.
Ancelotti’s rotation, in many ways, has made Napoli a harder outfit to gameplan for on a weekly basis, unlike what we witnessed under Maurizio Sarri who kept his XI intact, though it was unequivocally extremely effective at peak performance. Now, the former Milan and Chelsea boss will assess his men over the next few days, and identify where the upper-hand can be had.
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