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It’s a shame to call this Napoli champion. Mourinho simply did not notice Khvici’s team

Nikita Paglazov December 24, 2023, 01:08 Moscow time Audio version: Your browser does not support the audio element.

Neapolitan players confused football with martial arts.

Rome and Napoli are not in the best conditions. The Romans, like the Neapolitans, have only won twice in the last five rounds. As a result, both teams were expelled from the Champions League zone. To get closer to Bologna it was necessary to win head to head.

Napoli did not improve their results much after replacing Rudi García with Walter Mazzarri. Yes, there are a couple of players in the hospital, but in general the coach has ample options in his squad. Another question is whether Napoli players will be able to get used to the new demands. For now it remains open. We know what to expect from José Mourinho and Roma from him. There was a boom at the beginning of the season, when the Romans moved away from their usual football a bit and played more attacking. But at the end of December everything returned to the classic verticality.

More surprising were Mourinho’s decisions during the match. From the beginning, Roma played more aggressively, more actively and attacked more frequently. Napoli seemed to assume the role of rival, giving up the initiative in the hope of strong attacks. And Roma created several dangerous chances in the first half. Midfielder Edoardo Bove, a Romans graduate, was the center of attention on a couple of occasions. He first shot from outside the area and hit the crossbar. And a couple of minutes later he found himself right in the center of the goalkeeper’s area, he received a pass from Belotti and shot from close range. But Meret saved Naples.

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Rudeness became an important plot line of the party. She accompanied the game throughout the distance. Referee Andrea Colombo mercilessly showed yellow cards and even sent off one of the players (more on this later). Roma and Napoli coaches also received warnings. In general the intensity was felt in everything. Which once again indicates the importance of the meeting. Both clubs wanted to give a gift to the fans before Christmas and get closer to the top 4.

The first half finally ended goalless. Roma emerged as the initiating team, while Napoli assumed a wait-and-see role. Did Mazzarri choose the right tactic?

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The second 45 minutes started without much activity. A minimum of dangerous moments and again a lot of rudeness. The zeros were still burning on the scoreboard at the Stadio Olimpico and at that moment there was the feeling that the match would end goalless. But Napoli winger Matteo Politano managed to wake her up. Admittedly, not exactly as he wanted. In the 66th minute, Edoardo Bove violated the rules and, in response, the visiting player kicked his rival from behind. For this, the referee showed Politano a straight red card without hesitation. And it was worth it?

Mourinho saw an opportunity and minutes later he made a triple substitution. José intensified the attack by introducing Pellegrini, Azmoun and El Shaarawy. And the change worked perfectly! It was these three players who organized Roma’s goal. In the 76th minute, Azmoun received the ball in the area, shot at the defender, then El Shaarawy took advantage of the rebound, hitting crookedly. But the ball flew towards Pellegrini and hit the Napoli goal. After the goal, the broadcast showed Mourinho satisfied: his decisions turned out to be correct.

Photo: Paolo Bruno/Getty Images

Did Napoli attack Roma’s goal after the goal? No. But the home team had a great opportunity to increase their lead: Lukaku tried to go over Meret, but the Napoli goalkeeper saved the team. And after a couple of minutes, the result became clear with a high degree of probability. Victor Osimhen fouled El Shaarawy, for which he received a second yellow card. Napoli ended up finishing the game with nine players. Yes, Mazzarri immediately made a triple substitution, but in a 9 vs 11 situation it is extremely difficult to recover. And in the end the Romans scored the second goal. The home team launched a counterattack, which Lukaku completed with a powerful strike, setting the final score.

Roma overtook Napoli in the standings and rose to sixth place. The Neapolitans fell to seventh place. Bad season for the current Italian champions. Although, taking into account all the circumstances, it is a shame to call Napoli that. Will Mazzarri face the difficult situation or will the club face another change of coach?

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