May 20, 2012, 5:51 PM EDT
Man of the Match: It’s tough to pick a man of the match when no individuals really step up. You’re left looking at isolated moments, decided how much impact they had on the match – how much unique skill is required to pull it off. You’re often left picking a MotM that’s only scarcely more MotM-y than the game’s 21 other principles.
Marek Hamsik did score the game’s final goal, but there was little to separate his performance teammates’. The deciding factor: Napoli’s attacker was given the job of marking Andrea Pirlo, and until Napoli went ahead through Edinson Cavani’s 63rd minute spot kick, Pirlo was kept quiet.
Packaged for takeaway:
- As most teams have done to Napoli of alte, Juventus went semi-like-for-like with their set up. Napoli’s renown for playing 3-4-3, so Juventus started 3-5-2, with wing backs Stephan Lichtsteiner and Marcelo Estigarribia charged with tracking their Napoli counterparts: Christian Maggio and Juan Camilo Zuniga.
- The two deployments produced a standoff. Good opportunities were scarce, with the teams limited to two chances in the first half (one for each side).
- The game was decided in the 63rd minute. Napoli had built some minor momentum, and after finding Ezequiel Lavezzi running through the right channel, the Azzurri created the match’s first break. With Lavezzi about to move in on goal, Juventus goalkeeper Marco Storari took down the Argentine attacker. Cavani easily converted the winner.
- The way the match played out forced you to consider the strange nature of Juventus’s near-undefeated season. Juve failed to meaningfully pressure Napoli, a performance that was not out of character for Serie A’s champions. Throughout the season, the team has relied more on opportunism than dominance. That approach got Juve to the season’s last game undefeated, but as Napoli dealt the Old Lady their first loss of the year, you had to wonder how Antonio Conte ever got his team this far.
- So Juventus is denied the double, but given how they played, they didn’t seem to mind. It was the flat performance of a team who’d already met their goal: Winning the league.
- Napoli, on the other hand, win their first major trophy in 22 years, having won Serie A in 1989-90. The club is entirely different now, with bankruptcy and a trip to the third tier forcing the team to redefine itself under owner Aurelio De Laurentis. While last year’s qualification for Champions League may have provided the emotional high point in Napoli’s resurgence, today’s result put something in the trophy case.
Sep 23, 2014, 7:28 PM EDT
The 35-year-old midfielder won the World Cup with Italy in 2006 and is regarded as one of the best playmakers of his generation.
Sep 23, 2014, 6:39 PM EDT
The Toronto FC midfielder and U.S. international was fined for his harsh comments regarding the refereeing in Toronto’s draw with Chicago.
Sep 23, 2014, 5:49 PM EDT
Anfield played host to a match that saw two extra-time goals and a penalty shootout that went 15 rounds before the Reds could claim their place in the fourth round.
Sep 23, 2014, 4:30 PM EDT
The Serbian club’s supporters were seen waving a banner displaying an anti-Semitic phrase during their Europa League match against Tottenham.
Sep 23, 2014, 4:08 PM EDT
Altidore is off and running for the 2014-15 season, watch his goal.
Sep 23, 2014, 3:15 PM EDT
UEFA has already ruled — based on previous offenses — that CSKA’s match against Bayern Munich next week will be played in an empty stadium.
Sep 23, 2014, 2:22 PM EDT
What would Lampard want? Hard to tell from the weekend’s goal celebration or lack thereof?
Sep 23, 2014, 1:33 PM EDT
You do get the feeling they had to do a bunch of work to find people who failed to recognize Dempsey, if only because of the interviews that made the final cut.
Sep 23, 2014, 12:42 PM EDT
The possibilities for juicy upsets aren’t dancing through the slate of third round matches, but there’s plenty to look forward to…
Sep 23, 2014, 11:43 AM EDT
Ghana national teamer and Al Ain striker Asamoah Gyan has called a press conference to refute non-sensical claims that he killed his friend to gain magical powers.
Sep 23, 2014, 10:53 AM EDT
Anfield has been Liverpool’s home since 1892, and the new construction is slated to finish in time for the start of the 2016/17 season.
Sep 23, 2014, 10:08 AM EDT
Oh, the challenges that await a man altering another man’s power rankings.
Sep 23, 2014, 9:06 AM EDT
Hope Solo advocates have been angered by some columns claiming she shouldn’t be playing, while a national pundit gives his take on the story
Sep 23, 2014, 8:09 AM EDT
Bradley Wright-Phillips, you may now step forward to collect your prize of Internet-based high-fives.
Sep 23, 2014, 7:40 AM EDT
It’s hard to imagine the new head safety measures won’t pass quickly, and reports say they could be in effect by October.
Sep 23, 2014, 12:14 AM EDT
Newly-promoted Paderborn is shocking the Bundesliga and providing quite the show in the process.
Sep 22, 2014, 11:28 PM EDT
It was a rough weekend for Americans in England, but outside the country things a little more enjoyable.
Sep 22, 2014, 10:51 PM EDT
The full debut of Men In Blazers graced NBC Sports Network tonight with an assist from Adam Richman.
Sep 22, 2014, 10:04 PM EDT
Despite making just sixteen league appearances the last three years, the Gunners manager says Diaby should be commended for his perseverance.
Sep 22, 2014, 8:41 PM EDT
Seattle’s lethal striker is set to cap the best year of his career with a new deal and a raise.
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