S.S.C. Napoli

UEFA hands Jurgen Klopp one-match ban for outburst against Napoli

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After being dismissed from the sidelines during last Wednesday’s 2-1 loss at Napoli, most expected Borussia Dortmund coach Jurgen Klopp to be suspended for next Tuesday’s visit from Olympique Marseille. Today that ban became official, with Klopp’s outburst in the first half of last week’s Champions League opener set to sideline him for BVB’s second group stage match.

The incident happened in the first half after Neven Subotic was delaying being waved back onto the field after receiving treatment for a cut. After Gonzalo Higuaín headed home a Juan Camilo Zuñiga cross as Subotic was running on, Klopp went off:

Again, thanks, KickTV.

As he conceded after the match, Klopp’s display was idiotic (his word: “pathetic”), with the stupidity functioning on three levels. First, while it’s understandable that a coach would need some outlet to vent their frustrations, the fourth official shouldn’t be abused for a decision the head referee controls. Stand at the edge of the area and burst a lung making your case to the person in the middle, but leave the fourth official alone.

Second, while we could lean on caveats about the heat of the moment justifying heightened emotions, it doesn’t. Look at the way Klopp is towering over, intimidating the smaller man, somebody who’s not engaging in the confrontation. For a few, ill-advised moments, Klopp became a stereotypical, over-aggressive jock, something he undoubtedly regrets. Nobody wants to think of themselves as a bully.

And finally, the outburst has cost him more than a game-and-a-half’s time guiding his team. When you add up the suspension and the time Klopp missed in Napoli, he’ll be sidelined for nearly 160 minutes – just under 30 percent of Dortmund’s group stage.

Perhaps BVB will be fine without him, but no outburst is worth that risk. In the heat of the moment, it’s difficult to find the needed restraint, but that’s part of his job. As Klopp would surely agree, he needs to be better than this.

UEFA Champions League, Full-time Snapshot: The numbers after 90 minutes

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We tried something new at halftime today, giving you a quick, raw rundown of some key indicators for each of the day’s eight Champions League matches. We all know statistics can be mislead when used incorrectly, so given they were only racked up over 45 minutes of play, there was nothing to get too analytical about. Still, it’s always interesting to see which teams are piling up big edges in shots, possession, and other broad-stroke figures.

To redress the situation, here’s how all those numbers stood at full time:

Group Home-Road Score Shots Shots
on Goal
Possession
E Schalke-Steaua Bucharest 3-0 13-11 6-3 59-41
E Chelsea-Basel 1-2 12-6 4-3 57-43
F Napoli-Borussia Dortmund 2-1 15-17 7-6 59-41
F Marseille-Arsenal 1-2 17-9 7-5 49-51
G Atlético Madrid-Zenit St. Petersburg 3-1 18-10 6-3 46-54
G Austria Wein-Porto 0-1 13-10 2-2 33-67
H Milan-Celtic 2-0 22-12 7-1 56-44
H Barcelona-Ajax 4-0 16-9 7-7 57-43

All stats are from Opta.

Six of the teams that won the possession battle also won their game. The team with the most shots won four times. In the six games where somebody had an edge in shots on goal, the team with the most shots won four.

Compared the the numbers below, you see the biggest changes happened in the score. Some exceptions: Napoli’s possession number skyrocketed in the second half, to be expected playing up a man; both shots and shots on goal exploded in the second half at the Nou Camp, even more than you’d normally see in a second half; Milan turned a slight possession deficit into a positive figure as they pushed for their winning goal.

Here’s how the numbers looked after 45 minutes of play.

 

Group Home-Road Score Shots Shots
on Goal
Possession
E Schalke-Steaua Bucharest 0-0 6-6 2-2 59-41
E Chelsea-Basel 0-0 4-2 1-1 59-41
F Napoli-Borussia Dortmund 1-0 5-7 2-2 51-49
F Marseille-Arsenal 0-0 7-3 2-1 48-52
G Atlético Madrid-Zenit St. Petersburg 1-0 9-2 3-0 50-50
G Austria Wein-Porto 0-0 9-4 1-1 34-66
H Milan-Celtic 0-0 11-4 5-0 49-51
H Barcelona-Ajax 1-0 3-0 2-0 60-40

Napoli 2-1 Borussia Dortmund: Early goal, red card decide day’s big match (Video)

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An even battle in the day’s marque match descended into an unbalanced one near the half-hour mark, with an opening goal from Gonzalo Higuaín followed by a red card to Roman Weidenfeller tipping the scales in Napoli’s favor. After Lorenzo Insigne’s picturesque free kick in the 67th minute doubled the hosts’ lead, Rafa Benítez’s side had eased to a 2-1 victory over Borussia Dortmund, last year’s European finalists scoring through a late Juan Camilo Zuñiga own goal.

It was easier than it should have been thanks to the red card, a decision that sparked a sequence that also saw Dortmund head coach sent to the stands. Already down 1-0 just before halftime, Weidenfeller charged off his line to challenge a ball being chased down by Higuaín. Elevating to try and block a chip Weidenfeller was judged to have handed the ball outside his area and was shown a straight red card. Klopp’s protests to the fourth official about the call and how the ensuing chaos (which saw Matts Hummels stretched from the pitch) has handled saw him dismissed, also.

Seventeen minutes earlier, Higuain had given Napoli the opener. As Zuñiga set up to cross from deep on the left, the Argentine striker pulled away from Hummels and found space in front of goal. Marcel Schmelzer’s attempts to mark the Napoli number nine came too late, with Zuñiga’s cross redirected to Weidenfeller’s lower-left corner for the game’s opening goal.

source: Getty Images
Gonzalo Higuain’s 29th minute goal opened the scoring for Napoli in a 2-1 win over visiting Borussia Dortmund. (Photo: Getty Images.)

Up a man in the second half, Napoli began monopolizing the ball, eventually drawing a direct kick from 23 yards out. Even with the right post, Insigne put a textbook bend on a ball that went outside the woodwork, around the wall, and into the upper-right hand corner, giving Napoli a 2-1, 67th minute lead.

By full-time, Napoli had held 59 percent of the ball, but the game’s other stats tell what the match was like before the sides were unbalanced. Dortmund ended up outshooting the partenopei, 17-15 while coming close to their hosts in shots on goal (6-7).

With those occasional threats, Dortmund were able to force late consolation – a tally that may matter in a highly competitive Champions League group. Zuñiga, with a bit of late generosity that cancelled out his early assist, added an own goal to make it 2-1.
Ultimately, however, Napoli were able to hold on for a win that leave them tied with Arsenal on top of Group F. The Gunners’ 2-1 win at Marseille leaves the two victors on three points with a +1 goal difference, having scored an identical number of goals. (Arsenal would technically win a tiebreaker wit their higher UEFA coefficient.)

Still, with a valuable win over the group favorites, Italy’s leaders have gotten their Champions League off to a flying start.

Goals

Napoli: 29′ Higuain, 67′ Insigne

Borussia Dortmund 87′ Zuniga (o.g.)

Lineups

Napoli: Reina; Maggio, Albiol, Britos, Zuñiga; Behrami, Inler; Callejón, Hamsik (90′ Mesto), Insigne (73′ Mertens); Higuain (78′ Pandev). Unused subs: Dzemaili, Armero, Cabral, Cannavaro

Borussia Dortmund: Weidenfeller; Schmelzer, Hummels (46′ Aubameyang), Subotic, Grosßkreutz; Sahin, Bender; Reus, Mkhitaryan (76′ Hofmann), Blaszczkowski (46′ Langerak); Lewandowski. Unused subs: Kirch, Günter, Durm, Schleber

Borussia Dortmund left to fight back down a player, coach at Napoli

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Gonzalo Higuaín has ruined Borussia Dortmund’s day, but if you were to ask Jurgen Klopp about his team’s early Champions League fortunes, Pedro Proença would surely be near the top of the BVB coach’s hate list, the match official having reduced last year’s finalists to 10 just before half time.

Higuaín had already given Napoli a 29th minute lead when he a ball lofted over a high line in the irst minute of stoppage time put the Argentine international in on goal. BVB goalkeeper Roman Weidenfeller came charging off his line and out of the 18-yard box to challenge, but jumping in the air to block a ball Higuain tried to chip around him, Weidenfeller appeared to handle the ball with his left hand. The resulting straight red reduced Dortmund to 10.

With Weidenfeller’s left knee close to his hand, it wasn’t clear at full speed whether the keeper had illegally handled the ball. But it was before that incident, when the officials kept an injury Neven Subotic off for a prolonged period of time, that caused Klopp went off on fourth official Venâncio Tomé:

Thanks, KickTV.

Suffice to say, Klopp will be watching the rest of this one from the stands, leaving his team down a goal, a player, and a head coach. Against a Rafa Benitez-led side, expect the rest of this one to play out in a controlled, predictable fashion.

Report: Gonzalo Higuaín agrees to leave Real Madrid for Napoli; where does this leave Arsenal?

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Whether this is Arsenal sleeping, deciding not to match, or otherwise being blindsided, the long-rumored purchase of Real Madrid striker Gonzalo Higuain is not going to happen, if Spanish outlet AS has covered all its bases. Instead the 25-year-old Argentine will be moving to Napoli, replacing Edinson Cavani as the Neopolitans give manager Rafa Benítez a $48.8 million striker to build behind.

According to AS, Higuaín has agreed to personal terms that will pay him $7.9 million per season. Though the length of his deal wasn’t reported, if it’s a four-year contract, Napoli’s overall commitment to Higuaín will exceed $80 million. That’s nearly all of the fee PSG paid for Cavani and just over half of the Parisian’s total commitment to their new striker.

For their money, Napoli get a player that scored 106 times in his 188-match La Liga career, averaging exactly two goals every three games since his breakout, 22-goal season in 2008-09. After moving from River Plate in December 2006, Higuaín’s been part of three league champions and one Copa del Rey winner, though for the first time in his European career, the Argentine international will have to replicate his successes beyond the Santiago Bernabeu.

How close he can come to replicating Cavani’s success will be the bigger issue for Napoli fans. With the Uruguayan’s move to France, Napoli are losing a player who averaged 26 goals per season over the last three years. To put that in perspective, Higuaín’s best year in Madrid was 27 goals, but that was also the only time he eclipsed 22. Cavani’s worst season in Napoli produced 23 goals.

Higuaín won’t have to make up the whole the difference to make this move work. In fact, comparisons to Cavani’s value provide an impossible standard for Higuaín to live up to. Acquired from Palermo in 2010, Cavani had become a bargain for Napoli, more than paying off their initial $23 million investment. While he signed a new contract after his 2010-11 breakout with the partenopei, Cavani’s sale to PSG still gave Napoli a windfall on their investment. Higuaín, a finished product, can’t be compared to that kind of buy low, sell high proposition.

He will, however, inevitably be compared to whomever Arsenal end up starting as their number nine next month, be that Luis Suárez or incumbent Olivier Giroud. With the Gunners linked to Higuaín since before the end of the season, many fans had been expecting the Argentine to eventually arrive at the Emirates. Now, with Napoli swooping to claim a player who seemed a perfect fit, Arsenal fans are back where they started: Wondering if their hope for a big summer move will be in vain.