Napoli began the match with something to lose, namely first place in Serie A, provided that AC Milan would later win in the Milan derby against Inter.
Luciani Spalletti began the match using a well-tested 4-3-3 formation, that easily switches to 4-2-3-1 in defense, and a predictable starting line-up. While Kalidou Koulibaly was out for the match, Juan Jesus and Amir Rrahmani were tasked with striking a partnership in the central defense area.
Meanwhile, Verona manager Igor Tudor opted for a familiar 3-4-2-1 formation that best utilizes the high work rate and commitment of players like Giovanni Simeone and Davide Faraoni.
Giovanni Simeone, a giant killer
Despite the Napoli defenders’ best attempts to stop him, Giovanni Simeone managed to continue his extraordinary run of form. Antonin Barak’s clever run down the right flank left him with space to cross for Simeone who broke his marking to score. The striker is the unlikely success story of the season in Serie A, having netted 8 times in the past 7 games for Verona.
Napoli, however, wasted no time in drawing level. In the 18h minute, defender Giovanni Di Lorenzo rifled in Fabian Ruiz’s cross from inside the penalty box.
Napoli remained the more dangerous of the two sides, but the possession dominance and clear-cut chances could not be converted into additional goals.
Lorenzo Insigne’s excellent volley in the 34th minute was parried away by goalkeeper Lorenzo Monttip. Victor Osimhen came closest to scoring when his excellent shot and turn hit the woodwork in the 41st minute.
Napoli unable to take advantage of 9-man Verona
Napoli’s tasks of securing a win seemed to be eased in the final minutes of the game. First, Daniel Bessa earned himself a red card, before Nikola Kalinic incurred the same fate.
In the 90th minute, Dries Mertens’ excellently taken free-kick struck the outside of the post, nearly gifting Napoli the 11th win of the season.
It was another good performance from Napoli, but one that will leave the Partenopei fateful frustrated. Gli Azzuri are in a position where they could lose out on the top spot of Serie A.
Meanwhile, it’s another sturdy display from Verona, that goes to further advance manager Igor Tudor and striker Giovanni Simeone’s stocks.
Napoli’s next match is on Sunday against Inter Milan at the San Siro stadium.