Napoli and Genoa played out a nervy 0-0 draw at Stadio San Paolo on Saturday evening, as I Partenopei missed the opportunity to put pressure on their top four rivals after a frustrating 90 minutes.
The hosts had the ball in the Genoa net within the opening two minutes, but Lorenzo Insigne’s strike was ruled out for an offside offence in the buildup. Napoli continued to push but failed to execute an incisive final ball and went into half-time all square.
Carlo Ancelotti’s men struggled to carve out any serious chances in the second half, threatening from distance but lacking any killer instinct. Genoa had the best opportunity of the match, Andrea Pinamonti needing only to tap home from close range, but Kalidou Koulibaly produced an incredible sliding clearance to stop the ball from crossing the line.
Fernando Llorente had a late header clawed away by the visiting goalkeeper, the effort millimetres from breaking the deadlock. But the game ended in a goalless draw, Thiago Motta’s impressive start to life as Genoa boss continuing, but there was plenty for Ancelotti to ponder at the final whistle.
Key Talking Point
It’s been a contentious week in Naples after the players and coach ignored President Aurelio De Laurentiis’ demands to remain in a training retreat as a result of their recent poor performances. Supporters have turned on several of the players, and an explosive reaction was needed from the team to rekindle the fractured relationship.
Napoli struggled to create any clear-cut chances against a stubborn and daring Genoa side, and the home crowd became increasingly frustrated as the game progressed, moaning and groaning at every misplaced pass or wasteful effort at goal.
A poor performance and more dropped points, the pressure is beginning to grow on Ancelotti.
STAR PLAYER – Are there many better centre backs in the world than Kalidou Koulibaly? Matches such as a home tie against Genoa should allow Napoli defenders some respite, but the Senegal international makes sure he’s always involved in every area of the pitch.
Koulibaly became an extra midfielder whilst the hosts were in possession, producing some marauding runs from deep and creating space for his more technically-gifted attacking teammates. The 28-year-old did not shirk his defensive duties however, and produced an incredible goal-line clearance in the second half with the game balanced on a knife-edge.
GENOA Player Ratings
Starting XI: Radu (8), Romero (8), Zapata (7), Ankersen (7), Cassata (7), Agudelo (8), Schöne (8), Lerager (7), Pajač (7), Pinamonti (7), Pandev (8).
Substitutes: Cleonise (6), Radovanovic (N/A), Ghiglione (N/A).
Napoli face a trip to San Siro after the international break to take on struggling Milan, as I Partenopei look to stay in touch with their fellow Champions League hopefuls.
Genoa follow up their impressive display at Stadio San Paolo with a home match against struggling SPAL, as Motta looks to drag his side away from relegation danger.