Serie A Club of the Round – Napoli


In a round full of ties, only Napoli and Bologna brought home the full loot and the Partenopei, which rag dolled a worthy opponent, were quite clearly the best team in this week-end. The Azzurri came into the game looking to wash out the bitter taste of an underwhelming two-game trip to San Siro against Milan, where they were held to a nil-nil tie in Serie A play and eliminated from Coppa Italia due to a paltry performance.

Carlo Ancelotti was a little more cautious versus Sampdoria and picked Arkadiusz Milik and Lorenzo Insigne up front, with José Callejon and Piotr Zielinski manning the flanks, rather than fielding his three strikers together. Elseid Hysaj and Alex Meret made their return to the starting XI, while Raul Albiol was spared due to a nagging ailment.

The Partenopei overwhelmed the Blucerchiati right from the kick-off and basically put the game away with a one-two knock-out punch after the 25th minute. The first goal was a thing of beauty: Marek Hamsik sprung Callejon loose on the right flank with a gorgeous long ball, the Spaniard sent in an extremely accurate low cross, just out of the first defender’s reach but precisely in front of Arkadiusz Milik, who slotted it under the bar.

Callejon was in the thick of it again a minute later, as he set up Insigne right inside the box and the little genius returned to the scoresheet after a three-month absence with a cross-shot that bent Emil Audero’s hands.

Fabia Quagliarella had basically his only clear shot at extending his streak and breaking the record before intermission, but he botched a flying deflection on a Nicola Murru cross. Right before half time, Audero tipped away Mario Rui’s curled effort.

Bartosz Bereszynski had the best chance for his side with a powerful strike from long range, which darted right near the post. Kalidou Koulibaly ripped off a strong run down the right flank, but his attempt was saved, and then the home team was able to cruise up until the 89th minute, when they were awarded a penalty for a handball and Simone Verdi drilled it.

After the match, several outlets reported that Marek Hamsik is poised to accept Dalian Yifang’s courtship and leave Naples after 12 illustrious years and 520 appearances with the club and the coach confirmed it.

A satisfying haul in the fantasy game: Alex Meret paced his teammates with his seven points, followed by all the defenders, who picked up five thanks to the clean sheet, the goal scorers with four, while all the midfielder accrued two, alongside Callejon for his dime.

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