Well, that was fun.
While the result rightly disappointed many, it was great the see Massimiliano Allegri’s Juventus back in action following Serie A’s winter break. Thursday night’s bout against Napoli was prime Calcio and the visitors deserve a heap of credit for their performance considering their availability woes.
Juve will lament a major missed opportunity against the depleted Neapolitans, but they can’t have many complaints about the final outcome. A point was just for both sides.
3 positives for Juventus to take from the 1-1 draw with Napoli
For Allegri, the opening contest of 2022 proved he still has plenty to work on if he’s to maximise the potential of this pretty mediocre Juve squad. However, it wasn’t all doom and gloom on the Bianconeri side of Piedmont. There were signs of life from the Old Lady and here are three positives they can take from Thursday night’s point.
Early success with the press
Juventus began the calendar year like they’d been shot out of a cannon. It was brilliant to watch. They pressed superbly in the opening exchanges to pen Napoli deep into their own half. It was measured, with particular triggers sparking sequences of increased Bianconeri intensity.
Alvaro Morata (team-high 28 pressures) and Weston McKennie (20 pressures) were the early protagonists in leading the press, and their intensity should’ve culminated in the opening goal. McKennie spurned a glorious opportunity from a corner very early on.
Despite failing to break the deadlock, Juve’s press reigned supreme to stifle the visitors. Napoli’s natural overload in the build-up was compromised by the Bianconeri’s astute man-orientation, with Alex Sandro and Juan Cuadrado engaging their respective wingers high upfield to ensure progression was difficult down the flanks.
The success of Juve’s press reduced a technically secure Napoli to more direct balls into the front men which suited the likes of Matthijs de Ligt, who could outduel Dries Mertens and regain possession for the hosts. This handed Juve plenty of control in the opening exchanges in what was a brilliant start to 2022.
And while this period of control via pressing proved fleeting, Max Allegri can take plenty of positives from this early period in the contest. Despite their absences, Napoli were always going to enjoy periods of possession when Juve’s intensity inevitably waned. They’re so proficient at playing out under pressure.