Napoli 4-1 Liverpool - The Peril of Naples
Che pericoloso. Campania hasn’t been this dangerous since the Four Days of Naples, damn those pesky Neapolitans. Anyway, let’s not dwell on a braindead, ignorant Tweet from a certain football club, let’s talk about Napoli, something the BT coverage declined to do after Spalletti’s boys gave Liverpool a night they’ll never forget. What went wrong for Liverpool? Who cares? Napoli were *insert every superlative possible* from start to finish and their opponents were lucky to escape with just a 4-1 loss.
The Maradona has always had an almost tangible superpower through its atmosphere and aura, at least when things are going well, and I just got that feeling that it would be one ofthosenights, as Napoli went from first gear to fifth inside a minute, when Osimhen rounded Alisson only to hit the post. A goal up inside five, Napoli could have had five by half-time, but had to settle for a lowly three goals against last season’s finalists. This side that had supposedly been ravaged by the dark influences of the modern transfer market, in fact, looked better than ever and were able to raise themselves to an intensity that seemed beyond anything Liverpool could muster. Perhaps these new recruits are just as good, if not better than their predecessors. But how? If John Q. Premier League Pundit hasn’t heard of them, how can they be any good? Why weren’t they in the BBC Sport gossip column, spuriously linked to Newcastle and Spurs?
The most impressive of those new Partenopei, Khvicha Kvaratskhelia, announced himself on the European stage with a vibrant assist in another naturally lively performance, proving that Champions League experience is far from a requirement when you have the talent to match the nonchalant poise that Kvaradona possesses. However, he’s not deserving of the credit for Napoli’s win. That belongs to Zielinski and Zambo Anguissa, with the former’s effective flair proving to be the perfect pairing for the latter’s intelligent, yet boisterous approach. Zambo Anguissa won possession, played a pass and reset. Such intelligence and imposing presence is invaluable in these games and is only amplified when you have someone like Zielinski causing mayhem behind the attackers. Perhaps, in Zambo Anguissa there’s a lesson in writing off footballers as flops after one poor season in a dreadful Fulham team, as he looked much better than what Liverpool had to offer in midfield, or perhaps I’m just getting carried away.
Back on the TV, huddled around a giant iPad like four middle-aged men drunkenly ordering McDonald’s at the end of their annual night out, the BT Sport crew worriedly jabbed the screen, trying to unpick everything and assign blame for each goal. No amount of arrows or virtual highlighter pens can take away the fact that Napoli were simply a level above Liverpool. Does that mean they’re a better team? Not necessarily, but you’re only as good as your last game, eh?
Shove your post-match ‘inquest’ where the sun don’t shine. Just sit back, stick the kettle on and re-watch Kvaratskhelia run rings around Alexander-Arnold or witness the relief of Gomez seeing Osimhen go off injured, only for Simeone to score right away. Napoli are the sort of club that Liverpool’s owners thought they were above when they joined up with the European Super League, football’s very own Woodstock ‘99. Their trip to the mean streets of Naples left them with a bloody nose. A metaphorical one that is, we don’t want to needlessly scaremonger now, do we?
One result doesn’t make a season, but this is a statement win from Napoli. Written off by many, myself included, they’ve started with a reckless abandon that is difficult not to love and now they’ve taken Liverpool apart in Europe. The lasting image for Liverpool from this match will be of their defenders standing still as Zambo Anguissa waltzed into the box to score Napoli’s second, but for me? It’s Zielinski, dinking the ball over Alisson as he lay like a turtle on its back. 4-0, not ninety seconds into the second half, killing any faint hope of another classic Liverpool comeback.
What's so dangerous about Naples then? Well, I'd avoid the football team, certainly when they're in this sort of mood.