Roma Starting 11: Patricio, Karsdorp, Mancini, Ibanez, Vina, Cristante, Vertout, Zaniolo, Mkhitarian, Pellegrini, Abraham
Napoli starting 11: Ospina, Di Lorenzo, Rrahmani, Koulibaly, Mario Rui, Fabian Ruiz, Anguissa, Zielinski, Politano, Oshimen, Insigne.
Roma 0 Napoli 0
Tonight’s match was an intriguing contest for all parties involved. Mourinho’s Roma were looking to turn their form around after a crucial loss to Juventus in the league and then a catastrophic 6-goal collapse against Bodo Glimt in Europe. The opposite could be said for Spalletti’s Napoli, the southern side were flying high after their 8th win in a row last Sunday in the league and they were looking to continue that against the home side and a packed Stadio Olimpico.
Naturally, Roma made wholesale changes to the side after thursday, bringing the 1st team back into the side. Players to look out for were Italian playmakers Zaniolo and Pelligrini and English striker Tammy Abraham. Napoli were business as usual, restoring Oshimen, Ospina and Politano to the 1st team but otherwise unchanged.
Roma certainly looked sharper at the kickoff, progressing the ball into Napoli’s final third, only being stopped by a smart tackle from Kalidou Koulibaly and a fortunate mistake by Abraham who couldn’t get the ball out under control.
After the bitter defeat at Juve, the Roma side definitely seemed determined to make the first move, with a Pellegrini shot deflected just wide.
The only notable event for Napoli early on was an attempt to catch Roma out with some corner trickery but it seemed to also catch out the ref who blew the play dead. Oshimen also missed a half chance of a tricky long ball firing into the defender’s legs.
As the half went on Napoli seemed to warm up as they started to create more chances. One of them being a Politano free kick which curved just wide of Rui Paatricio’s goal.
However,the biggest chance of the half so far fell to Tammy Abraham, after muscling Zielinski of the ball in midfield, Christante fired the ball perfectly between the two centre backs for A striding Abraham to strike, which he put excruciatingly just wide of the post.
Napoli had chances of their own, with Oshimen running channels but his closest attempts on goal would be ruled offside. Insigne would also make an attempt but failed to hit the target.
Tensions started to simmer near the end of the half with Oshimen and Roma centre back Mancini both fell to the ground both claiming violent conduct off eachother. Although the VAR check cleared both of them, the half ended with a boiling atmosphere from the players and the crowd.
The second half started with Napoli in control, but they weren’t able to convert that into any solid opportunity. The most significant event for the away side so far was midfield anchor Anguissa going to the ground in pain in the Roma box. Once again, no foul play was discovered.
Napoli’s pressure saw Oshimen strike the post after heroic defending from Roma. Politano was unlocked down the right hand side of the box after a terrific reverse pass from Ruiz. The Italian winger would square it to Oshimen who;s shot was somehow deflected by Mancini and Ibanez who both collided with the post. Oshimen would immediately hit the woodwork again with a header from the ensuing corner, but it bounced harmlessly out of play.
The next clear chance fell to Mkhitarian who’s first time curling strike came in with great pace but Ospina saw the 25-yarder the entire way and calmly caught it.
Coming into the final 30 minutes, the match was still scoreless but both teams had shown that they could do damage, especially as defensive legs started to tire.
Mancini should have put the hosts in front with a free header from an in-swinging set piece that sailed wide. Roma certainly had opportunities to take the lead despite Napoli’s overall control of the match.
With ten minutes to go Mourinho himself saw a red for dissent towards the referee, but despite his theatrics Roma as a defensive side were performing very well. They had succeeded in containing Oshimen so far which was a first for this season.
Napoli continued to put pressure on Roma in the closing minutes with enterprising strikes from newly subbed Elmas but Patricio this time saw it the whole way.
Oshimen would finally head the ball back in the net but was clearly offside by a few yards. Perhaps highlighting his performance in a nutshell. Promising but not good enough.
The match would end scoreless, a hard fought stalemate. Roma fans would end up happier as they had managed to finally stop Napoli’s 100% start to the season, but Napoli still ended the week undefeated and top of the Serie A table.