Roma traveled to Naples to take on Napoli in Serie A game of the week. As we Revisited one of the most competitive rivalries in Italian football the Derby Del Sol. Historically Roma has dominated but over the last five seasons when these two teams set for battle it has been incredibly enticing and exciting football. Both Roma and Napoli were coming off Champions League games in midweek against Moscow and PSG respectively. This game it came a little too early as both teams would appreciated a little more rest ahead of one of the biggest games of their season. We saw a battle but a different one then many of us thought we would see. We saw a high-functioning high-flying offense against a Roman defense that held off as long as they could. Napoli were without a doubt favorites going into this match and they let themselves down in their performance. The amount of chances they wasted severely cost them. Roma took a shock lead through Shaarawy in the opening 20 minutes of the match and Roma held onto it for dear life as long as they possibly could. However Super Sub Dries Mertens arrived in the nick of time to break Roman hearts as Napoli stole victory from Roma. Points were shared in the derby Del Sol a result that was a fair representation of the match. A wasteful Napoli fail to deliver as Roma steal points at the Stadio San Paolo.
Robin Olson and The Roman Defense
Roma ended up in a defensive battle instead of attacking Napoli like I thought they would. They were prepared for the challenge and dealt with it accordingly. Much of the game Napoli had the ball in Roma’s half. Napoli dominated play and had complete control for much of the match they were expecting the carve Roma open very early and often. It was a dominating attacking performance from Napoli but Roma’s defensive tactics they applied held them off until the very end. After their Champions League a match in midweek DiFrancesco made a few changes to the defense some that would be considered risks going into a tough match against a very attacking oriented Napoli side. He gave Davie Santon another start which I was not surprised by since he has played well over the last few games. However the one that shocks me was Federico Fazio being dropped for Juan Jesus who has barely played any games this season. It worked perfectly Roma played incredibly tough and cohesively incredibly hard-working trying to counter a Napoli attack that is one of the best in football. Kostas Manolas in particular I thought stuck out in terms of how much effort he put in didn’t give up on any play and was going to hundred miles an hour showing incredible Grit working really hard for the team. It was so important for him to try to hold off the inevitable and he played extremely well However the outstanding performance came from Swedish goalkeeper Robin Olsen. In goal he showed incredible poise and control. He wasn’t rattled and was able to adapt to the circumstances of the match. Napoli missed a lot of chances for Robin Olson was exceptional given the amount of chances that went in his Direction. He had a cat like reflex against a very aggressively dangerous Napoli attack. He showed his real value in his team unfortunately he could only hold them off for so long. However Roma got to the end of the match and had a chance to win because of how well he performed and in a game like that when Napoli dominated in the attacking sense to be held off as long as they did was incredibly impressive by Robin Olsen and the Roma’s defense.
Napoli’s Wasted Chances
Going into this match there was no debate who is the better team. Napoli were high flying again despite Juventus hot start to the season they have been on their toes at least for the last few weeks. A large part of that is because the Napoli attack this is a more disciplined side under Carlo Ancelotti but the attacking mentality is still the same they are team they get out on a break and go for the throat. They were able to do that in this match but not to the success that this team is accustom to. Much like Roma Napoli had a Champions League match midweek against French Giants PSG. They probably would have liked a few more days rest to fully prepare for a Roma side that was in it dire need of points. Roma handled this fatigue a little better than Napoli did. Napoli missed far too many chances they had 26 shots in last night’s draw only four of them found the target. They went up against a Roma defense that was up for it but even so there’s no excuse for missing as many chances as they did. Essentially Napoli’s best player Lorenzo Insigne was silenced. The Red hot Winger had a very quiet night at San Paulo. The Napoli supporting cast didn’t help either they were far too many opportunities missed and in a game they probably should have won. They weren’t expecting the defensive play by Roma but Napoli have all the tools in the world to find the back of the net yet they were unable to do so they only have themselves to blame for failing to secure the three points
El Shaarawy or Bust going forward
Roma severely lacked a offensive output against Napoli. However Stephan El Shaarawy was quite easily the best player on the pitch in the 1-1 draw in Naples. Romans attack did not flow all that much but El Shaarawy whenever he had the chance went forward with Incredible confidence and momentum. He used his speed and his movement off the ball to try to create problems for Napoli. Unfortunately he was the only Roma player who had that killer instinct a lot of times he found himself in a situation where he had literally no help. When he got the ball he went forward and looked incredibly strong on the ball the problem was every time he got into a dangerous area he was surrounded by Napoli Defenders with little to no help. Despite the fact he was still able to do some minimal damage the one moment of the game he had help he was able to score a goal. Understandably after Roma took the lead they decided to defend and try to squeeze out of points. Had they gone forward more than they did maybe they could have created something a little bit more El Shaarawy was doing everything for the team in the attacking sense a lot of it. Napoli just sucked the offense out of Roma. El Shaarawy still caused problems all by himself the Wingers performances this season has been absolutely superb and he continues to put in regularly strong performances. Unfortunately it was El Shaarawy or bust in Roma’s attacks had he had more help under other circumstances Roma quite easily could have had more opportunities to score but showing his willingness for the team and his quality he clearly has. He is a player that Roma need to be looking at as a starter on a more consistent basis his performance was on display but the rest of the attack could not follow suite.
Dries Mertens Impact
Dries Mertens was Napoli’s unsung hero off the Bench as he scored in the 90th minute to give Napoli a draw against underdogs Roma. Dries Mertens has mutually turned into a Super Sub something that I don’t think he should be forced into doing. The last two seasons Dries Mertens has been a quite simply Napoli’s number one attacking option that seems to not exist anymore. This is a player but narrowly lost out on the Golden Boot just two years ago a world-class player. Although I think Napoli have progressed under Carlo Ancelotti Dries Mertens is no longer looked at as a number one option. With the immediate emergence of Napoli Superstar Lorenzo Insigne it has caused the Belgian International to be used mainly as a substitute. Which is under using his value Mertens is one of my very favorite players in Serie A his lightning pace and football intelligence makes him incredibly dangerous while I was watching this game I was terrified the moment he came into the game because I knew if there was a guy who was going to come through in the clutch for Napoli it was going to be Mertens. He continues to score but the impact of this guy could not be any more clear coming off the bench in some situations may make sense but I think personally more times than not he should be starting games understandably he’s not going to be Napoli’s number one option this season with how well the Lorenzo Insigne is playing but he certainly should be starting the majority of their games this season. He is just too good of a player to not see his value appreciated. It may be the tactics or they utilize him in certain situations but I think he is a starter on any team in Italy. He is a far better than some of the options that are being picked instead of him. Carlo Ancelotti should seriously consider starting Lorenzo Insigne and Dries Mertens together this is the only way they catch that giants in Turin. Last night he proved his value
Massive Point for Roma
Despite the circumstances of the match stealing a point away in Naples at the Stadio San Paolo it’s something to be proud of. Has Roma lost this game it would have put them in an uncomfortable position and the tension would increase on the job security of DiFrancesco. Roma were severely outplayed but when an opportunity came El Shaarawy took advantage of it. It was a surprising lead for Roma to have in the first place as throughout the match it had looked like Napoli were in full control. Roma was basically forced to defend for the majority of the game to trying to hold on to their narrow lead. Three points would have not been deserved by just from a team but stealing against a team like Napoli it’s hugely important. Roma have been Sensational in the champions league but in the League lacks some of that consistency necessary for a title challenge. They have lost to several teams at the bottom of the table something Roma need to improve on and I loss against Napoli could have been severe given Roma’s ambitions to finish in the top four. Even though a victory was snatched at the death Roma took a point off one of the most attacking minded teams in Europe. Roma are the first team this season to take points at Napoli at the San Paulo a positive result that can only give them more confidence and momentum into the next few games.