Napoli Draw Juventus, Higuain Silenced in his Return to Naples

Napoli draw against Juventus 1-1 in the San Paolo, silencing Higuain in his return to the south of Italy.

El Pipita was whistled and booed the entire match due to the circumstances of his 90 million Euro transfer to Juventus last summer. Bitter Napoli fans even crafted toilet paper with a photo of Higuain on it to sell in the city.

This match meant the world to the city of Naples, as a goal for Higuain and/or a victory to Juventus would surely be a stab to the heart.

In what was a scintillating performance from the Partinopei, the evening did not begin too well.

Within seven minutes Sami Khedira fired the ball past back up goalkeeper Rafael Cabral who was unlucky to have got a hand on it. Cabral was replacing starting goalkeeper Pepe Reina.

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The San Paolo was silenced; however, the home side were not.

Napoli poured on the pressure since the 7th minute, and some great chances from Lorenzo Insigne worried the Juventus defence. His curling efforts towards the target were close enough to say the Neapolitans were beginning to knock on the door.

In the 55th minute of play Mertens’ rocket could not be held by Buffon and Callejon’s finish was offside.

Five minutes later exceptional interplay between Mertens and Hamsik left the Slovakian International alone 12 yards from goal. Hamsik made no mistake, burying the effort in the top corner of the goal.

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The San Paolo erupted.

In the 63rd minute a poor back pass from the Juventus defence sprung free Dries Mertens on Buffon, who poked the ball passed the experienced keeper close to the touch line. He then swiped his right boot at the ball, only to hit the post.

In a dominating performance, Napoli were unlucky to have drawn 1-1. They controlled the match holding 61% possession; a statistic that is difficult to accomplish against Juventus.

Maurizio Sarri’s approach to this match was well read and his arsenal of attacking footballers discomforted the Juventus defence.

For the Juventus team and manager, their recent run of form has not lived up to expectations of the club.

Allegri’s 4-2-3-1 formation is clearly becoming a problem as Higuain struggles as the lone forward.

The outlets from defence and midfield are not as free as it should be, with the likes of Juan Cuadrado, Moise Kean and Paulo Dybala in the squad.

If Juventus are to win in Napoli later on this week, Allegri should consider a change. Otherwise, if Napoli capitalize on a few opportunities, Juventus’ hopes to make it to the Coppa Italia are in jeopardy.

 

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