It looked like business as usual. Blerim Dzemaili rifled home the opener inside twenty minutes and Sassuolo were supposed to part like the Red Sea and the small travelling contingent would discuss where their first point of the season would come from on the way home. However it did not end like that.
Napoli waved goodbye to their 100% record when Sassuolo blew the form book into oblivion by holding the Partenopei to a 1-1 draw. Simone Zaza the man responsible for bursting the bubble with a thunderous strike into the roof of the net that nearly tore the posts out the ground.
It was a disappointing result and one that may have greater ramifications come the final week of the season. Not to get ahead of ourselves or anything. However Napoli should not be discouraged from what otherwise has been a terrific start to the season.
Benitez said of the draw, “If you play every three days and face a side that lost 0-7, you risk underestimating the challenge”. This is a viewpoint that those who watched Wednesday’s clash would reinforce.
The Spaniard continued and praised the side that were without a point before their trip to the San Paolo, “We met a team that was organised and knew what to do and proving the loss to Inter was an aberration rather than a true reflection of Sassuolo.”
“I am not satisfied, obviously, but we are not worried”, concluded the former Liverpool boss and this hunger from the manager is good to see. After his challenging time with Chelsea and in Italy with Inter, this desire to succeed and bring silverware to Naples seems to be burning brighter than ever. Results such as the 1-1 with Sassuolo will only drive Napoli on.
Genoa lie in wait in week six as the rotating door will spin once again ushering back Raul Albiol, Valon Behrami, Jose Maria Callejon and Lorenzo Insigne into the squad. Benitez’s rotation policy came under fire this week but he rightly defended the system which will come to reap rewards when Napoli take the field in Champions League action again this week with an away trip to Arsenal.
Weekly Rafa Benitez continues to impress me with the way he conducts himself and with his off field words. The big picture always seems to be in the forefront of his mind stating, “We want to be fighting for honours at the end of the year, not win one game by losing players who are tired or injured.” This is the perfect response to the critics of his system and come the end of the season, we will see if this method comes to fruition.
Knocked off top spot by an undefeated Roma, the 19th October could not come soon enough as the two sides meet at the Stadio Olimpico in what is a spine-tingling clash. Until then, Napoli has a tricky schedule in which they must build on the progress they have made so far.