UCL Group Stage: Liverpool 1-1 Napoli, the Partenopei player ratings

Liverpool and Napoli played to a scrappy 1-1 draw at Anfield Wednesday evening. Dries Mertens opened the scoring with a lovely bit of finishing towards Alisson’s far post, while Dejan Lovren’s header led the attacking assault in the second half, but it was not enough for Jurgen Klopp’s men to pick up all three points.

Here are the Partenopei player ratings on the night. Continue reading

Josip Iličić, the linchpin at the heart of Atalanta’s UCL dream

ROVETTA 08-07 -2018- ATALANTA  CAMPIONATO SERIE A TIN 2018-19  .Alberto mariani - silpress

Atalanta’s 2018-19 Serie A campaign has been nothing short of a fairytale thus far, as the club currently occupies the 4th UEFA Champions League spot with just four matches remaining. The Goddess, led by Italian mastermind Gian Piero Gasperini, currently holds her destiny in the palm of her hand and, if the stars align, will play Champions League football for the first time next season.

Beyond the 61-year old’s craftsmanship in molding young talent, which reportedly is of grave interest to the Milan hierarchy, Atalanta’s surge this campaign has been ignited by a bastion of individuals – young, old and everywhere in between. Specifically, captain Papu Gómez and capocannoniere contender Duván Zapata have formed a “little and big” relationship that is compatible with Gasperini’s vision for a high-powered offense, but the creative juices of Josip Iličić have been flowing so much that he has become the linchpin at the heart of Atalanta’s UCL dream. Continue reading

Kalidou Koulibaly further solidified himself as world class vs Liverpool


Building up to Tuesday night’s pivotal Group C clash at Anfield between Napoli and Liverpool, it was the outspoken attacker Dries Mertens who became the subject of discussion for his comments mocking the size of the iconic ’This is Anfield’ sign above the exit of the tunnel. Unfortunately for the Belgian, who received an earful from the home crowd throughout, the performance left plenty to be desired, as did the Partenopei’s collective effort, in the 1-0 defeat and elimination from the UEFA Champions League.

Despite crashing out of a tournament Carlo Ancelotti has become synonymous with over the years for winning three times, and the curtains closing earlier than initially expected, Kalidou Koulbaly’s first-rate performance lends credence to his status in the game as a world-class central defender. Continue reading

Three Keys for Napoli vs Liverpool


Champions League Group C is a tight one between leaders Napoli, Paris Saint-Germain and last year’s runner-up Liverpool entering the final round of play. As things stand, the Partenopei lead PSG by a single point, while holding a three point cushion over the English giants who they will pay a visit tonight at Anfield.

Carlo Ancelotti’s Napoli can qualify for the Round of 16 through one of the following scenarios: 1) win or draw vs Liverpool, 2) lose by a goal, but score at least once (2-1, 3-2) and PSG wins/loses. Continue reading

Allan shines for Napoli in big UCL win over Liverpool


Napoli’s 1-0 victory over Liverpool last night inside a vibrant San Paolo was one to remember for Neapolitans. Manager Carlo Ancelotti outclassed Reds boss Jürgen Klopp, executing his tactical game-plan down to its finest details and stifling the Champions League Final runner-ups with unwavering pressure and energy throughout the entire 90 minutes of play. The 59-year old Italian showed exactly why he is a three-time winner of the competition yesterday and further validated his ability to tinker with his tactics at his current job.

While local boy Lorenzo Insigne eventually became the hero when he latched onto and finished off his 90th minute winner, there was plenty of praise to go around amongst the Partenopei for the inspiring team effort, specifically for midfield enforcer Allan. Continue reading

Fabián Ruiz’s competitive debut for Napoli in UCL goes smoothly


The 2018-19 UEFA Champions League group stage kicked off yesterday in Groups A through D. With Inter’s arousing come from behind victory late over Tottenham Hotspur stealing much of the attention, Napoli’s disappointing scoreless draw vs. FC Crvena Zvezda did little to stir any real major reaction across the football landscape. However, despite Carlo Ancelotti’s men leaving Rajko Mitić Stadium with just a point, summer acquisition Fabián Ruiz was every bit as good as advertised on his competitive debut. Continue reading

Spalletti facing full-back conundrum ahead of Champions League return


‘It never rains but it pours’ is viewed by many as nothing but an overused cliché. However, given the situation which Inter find themselves in after a difficult start to the new season, it does ring especially true in their case. After all, seven new arrivals over the course of the summer brought an optimism to the club not seen since José Mourinho led the Nerazzurri to an historic treble success back in the 2009/10 campaign. Four points from their first four league matches has caused said euphoria to quickly transform itself into negativity and criticism, which has mostly been directed towards coach Luciano Spalletti. Continue reading

Bruno Peres’ strong week provides a positive for Roma


Despite being a largely peripheral figure for AS Roma this campaign, acting predominantly as a back up to starting right-back, Alessandro Florenzi, it’s been positive to see Bruno Peres put in two excellent shifts in a row.

A heavily derided figure by many of the Giallorossi faithful since joining last season, the Brazilian’s upturn in form against Barcelona, in Roma’s Champions League quarter-final clash, and against Fiorentina, saw him arguably be his team’s best player in both fixtures. Continue reading

Edin Dzeko proves his worth as Roma overcome Shakhtar


Edin Dzeko couldn’t have picked a better time to score his first ever goal in the knockout stages of the UEFA Champions League.

With Roma down 2-1 on aggregate from the first leg vs. Paulo Fonseca’s superbly coached Shakhtar Donetsk, the heavily derided Dzeko silenced his critics again with an exquisitely taken winner, as the Giallorossi’s 1-0 win saw them progress on the away goals rule. Moreover, their stirring triumph was made all the more pleasing due to the fact this was the first time they’d qualified for the UCL quarter-finals in the last 10 years and just the fourth time in their history they’d reached this stage.

A delighted Dzeko was rightfully rewarded with a standing ovation from the ecstatic Stadio Olimpico crowd when he exited the pitch following his substitution in the 89th minute. “The standing ovation I got today belongs to everyone, because we all gave our absolute everything right until the last minute,” Dzeko explained to Roma’s official website. “We deserve to be in the quarter-finals.” Continue reading