An unforgettable night at the Allianz Stadium saw Kalidou Koulibaly gift Juventus a 4-3 win over Napoli at the death which already lands a huge blow to the Partenopei’s chances of a first Scudetto since 1990.
While it may be too early to draw any concrete conclusions from the result, it felt like the heart had been ripped out of the Napoli players as they collapsed when the ball rippled the net.
Coming back from three goals down to eventually level in Turin against a team that has dominated Italian football for the last eight years was a feat in itself, but even in doing that, Juventus won as they always do.
OLD GUARD LEAD THE WAY
If someone said Sami Khedira and Gonzalo Higuain would star in the first match for Juventus against Napoli, you would have been laughed out of town. The pair were expected to leave the club during the summer, but both have started the first two matches of the season and were decisive for the Bianconeri.
Khedira was denied by a brilliant Alex Meret save, before the crossbar came to Napoli’s rescue and ran himself into the ground, almost collapsing when he was taken off in the second half. Higuain as well, against his former team, worked brilliantly in tandem with Cristiano Ronaldo and bagged a brilliant goal. It was as if he turned back time to his peak years with the Partenopei and cemented his position as the best out-and-out striker Juve have. Right now he is undroppable.
At times last season he went missing, as well as having issues with his temperament. But produced a masterclass on the wings for Juve, assisting twice, dribbling, pressing and running the Napoli defence ragged, he even helped out in defence as Juve slid into a 4-4-2 at times. Meret also denied the Brazilian a goal with a strong hand on a rocket of a shot.
DISASTEROUS DE LIGT
Giorgio Chiellini is key to the Juventus defence, and the second half against Napoli showed just how important he is. While Matthijs de Ligt is clearly an excellent defender with the promise to be one of the best in the world, in the space of 15 minutes on his full debut for the club.
De Ligt was did fine up until the hour mark, everything was running smoothly with Juventus 3-0 up. Then came Kostas Manolas’ ‘consolation’ goal. That was the turning point. Lozano sprinted in behind his former Eredivisie adversary and bagged Napoli’s second. De Ligt didn’t even know he was there. On another occasion Lozano easily dribbled past the ex-Ajax man, putting him on his backside in the process.
Then the unthinkable happened. Giovanni Di Lorenzo somehow got on the end of a corner with De Ligt nowhere to be seen.
Would it have happened if Chiellini was on the park? Probably not. Can De Ligt bounce back? Most definitely. If you learn from your mistakes, they are mistakes worth making and Koulibaly gave him the ultimate get out of jail card, otherwise the reaction to his errors could have been a lot worse.
LOZANO CHANGES EVERYTHING
The first Mexican to score in Serie A and the first player to score on his debut with Napoli in the top flight since Lorenzo Tonelli in January 2017. Lozano’s impact in the second 45 minutes brought out a magnificent comeback. He frightened the Juve backline with his direct running and pace. All this after just a week with his new team, he could be a revelation in the coming campaign.