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.
Sami Khedira hasn’t found the field much since moving to Juventus two summers ago, but when he does, he has a striker’s eye.
The German bagged his eighth goal for Juventus in just his 28th appearance as the Italian giants went on the road and defeated Lazio 1-0.
A poor clear attempt by Lucas Biglia saw Paulo Dybala’s lofted ball over the top fall to Khedira, and he skittered the ball across the face of goal into the far corner. The win is the second of the year for Juventus after they took down Fiorentina in their opening match.
There was a goal-fest at Stadio San Paolo as Napoli defeated AC Milan 4-2 braces from Arkadiusz Milik and Jose Callejon. Milik’s came in the first-half, with the opener in 18th minute, a lucky bounce as Dries Mertens’ shot clattered off the post and fell in Milik’s lap. He doubled Napoli’s lead in the 33rd minute with a beautiful header into the far corner, out-jumping Juraj Kucka.
The second half saw a flurry of action. A pair of goals four minutes apart saw Milan tie things up as M’baye Niang and Suso brought them level. Then, the yellow cards came flying. As a result, Kucka and Niang were both sent off for second cautions. Jose Callejon took advantage, bagging his first in the 74th and doubling his tally in stoppage time in a ridiculous bit of play that saw Alessio Romagnoli try to swat Mertens’ cross away from the goal line…yes, as in with his hands.
It’s a wonder Romagnoli wasn’t sent off for his actions. Napoli
Hope Solo’s USWNT suspension did not predicate she take time off from her club team the Seattle Reign, but that is exactly what she will be doing.
The 35-year-old goalkeeper will be taking a leave of absence from playing all forms of soccer, the Reign announced. They did not say how long she will be gone.
The club signed 21-year-old Andi Tostanoski as a replacement for Solo on the roster – Tostanoski’s third one-game replacement contract with the Reign. 26-year-old Haley Kopmeyer was given the start in today’s match against the Portland Thorns.
Many believe Solo’s international career could be over after U.S. Soccer reportedly terminated her contract. Despite that, club soccer was still immediately available to her. Even though U.S. Soccer pays her club salary as part of her USWNT deal, that portion of her contract was not terminated, according to reports.
Solo was suspended from international play for six months just two days ago mainly for comments she made following the USWNT loss to Sweden in the Olympic quarterfinals. However, it was clear from statements on both sides that an accumulation of actions, both in the public and private eye, had contributed to her eventual punishment.
Despite her controversial actions and personality, Solo has unquestionably remained the best goalkeeper in women’s international soccer, and has been that was for a number of years. She holds the world records in international appearances, wins, and shutouts for goalkeepers in women’s soccer.
Arsenal has completed a pair of big-money deals with the transfer windows closing down,.
Manager Arsene Wenger confirmed that the club has finished the transfers of Shkodran Mustafi and Lucas Perez, two players they have long been linked with. He also confirmed the club was unlikely to sign any other players, unless new opportunities cropped up before the window shuts on Wednesday.
“We have bought two players, Mustafi and Perez. We had to work very hard to get signings done,” Wenger said. “We have no plans for anyone else now.”
Mustafi fills the most pressing need, helping patch up a back line ravaged by injuries. He is set to sign a five-year deal, according to the BBC and other reports. The fee is a reported $46 million.
Perez, a 27-year-old Spaniard, also fills a heavy need up front. With just Olivier Giroud and Chuba Akpom as the only healthy strikers available to the Gunners, Perez will help fill a gap. Perez was purchased for a reported $22 million, triggering the player’s release clause.
It’s unclear how soon the players will be available to play for Arsenal. The club next takes on Southampton after the international break.
The Bundesliga officially opened Friday with Bayern Munich’s 6-0 demolition of Werder Bremen, but the rest of the league got under way Saturday, and it was business as usual.
Borussia Dortmund cruised with a 2-1 win over FC Mainz at Westfalenstadion behind a brace from main man Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. The first came early in the 17th minute, a headed goal at the far post on the end of a beautiful ball from Andre Schurrle. The second on a penalty in the 89th minute after Schurrle was fouled by Karim Onisiwo. Aubameyang started last season with 13 goals in the team’s first 10 games, and he’s begun this year’s campaign on the same foot.
Wolfsburg worked its way to a 2-0 win on the road at Augsburg with a pair of impressive goals. Daniel Didavi bagged the first, while the second was a late free-kick from Ricardo Rodriguez to double the lead.
Borussia Monchengladbach won a thriller at Borussia-Park 2-1 thanks to an 85th minute winner from Lars Stindl. The 28-year-old stayed just onside and beat Tin Jedvaj to the ball, slotting it in five minutes from time for all three points. Goals from Andre Hahn and substitute Joel Pohjanpalo had cancelled each other out. Fabian Johnson entered the game in the 61st minute.
Elsewhere, Timmy Chandler and Eintracht Frankfurt held serve at home with a 1-0 win over Schalke. Alex Maier scored the only goal in the 13th minute, and while he had a later penalty saved, The Eagles held their opponents scoreless the rest of the way. Chandler came on as a 56th minute substitute and helped keep the clean sheet.
Ingolstadt pulled out a 1-1 draw on the road at Hamburg thanks to a 76th minute equalizer from Lukas Hinterseer, cancelling out Bobby Wood’s goal on his Bundesliga debut.
Marcel Reese and Anthony Modeste gave Cologne a 2-0 home win over Darmstadt.