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Qasa Alom On January - 15 - 2011

Match Report: Napoli 0-0 Fiorentina

Napoli failed to close the gap on Serie A leaders Milan after a goalless draw at home against a resurgent Fiorentina in the Saturday early kick-off match. Qasa Alom reports.

Coming into the match, Napoli were full of confidence after a marvellous 3-0 victory over Juventus last weekend that propelled them into second place and received wordwide praise.

However tonight Fiorentina were equal to the challenge, with a renewed sense of spirit and unity following their miraculous comeback against Brescia, the likes of Donadel, De Silvestri and towering centre back partnership of Gamberini and Koldrup pressed hard, snapped into tackles and for the most part kept Napoli’s key men – Lavezzi, Gargano and Cavani - subdued.

In the first half, after a strong start that saw Cavani blast a half-volley over from the edge of the box, Napoli struggled to even get out of their half. Fiorentina’s midfield trio were dominant and suffocated the supply line to Napoli’s attackers and wide men, whilst Ljajic and Santana pressed high up the pitch forcing the three centre backs into mistakes.

After winning possession, Fiorentina concentrated their play down the wide areas, particularly the right hand side with De Silvestri and Santana combining power and trickery to cause problems.

Indeed the Argentinean winger should have opened the scoring in the 30th minute. Pasqual did well to win the ball back for Fiorentina and put a cross in from the left, however Santana couldn’t redirect the cross after a darting late run to the near post and the shot sailed wide safely.

Then 5 minutes later Napoli had the biggest chance of the game after Lavezzi’s in-swinging cross from the right found its way through to Paolo Cannavaro at the back post, but the Neapolitan captain could only steer the ball into the grateful arms of Artur Boruc.

The final chance of the half fell to Adem Ljajic, after the flighty Santana wriggled himself free near the byline and cut back, however the young Serb blasted over due to an apparent bobble.

The half ended with Mazzari fuming on the sidelines as Fiorentina confidently worked the ball in little midfield triangles and Cavani was left isolated from the rest of his team upfront. Perhaps the biggest reason for Fiorentina’s ascendency in the first half has to be attributed to Sinisa Mihajlovic.

The Serbian opted to play Gilardino as the lone striker, meaning that Fiorentina had an extra man in the centre of midfield to dominate proceedings against Paziena and Gargano who were very effective at controlling the tempo versus Juventus last weekend. The downside to this tactic though was also evident as Napoli backed off and allowed Fiorentina to play around with the ball safe in the knowledge that their three centre backs could easily deal with anything that came into the box for the ineffective Gilardino.

The second half saw a reversal of roles as Napoli were now the team in ascendancy. Mazzari substituted the anonymous Jose Sosa for Hassan Yebda, who brought more energy and balance in the midfield. This allowed Napoli’s wide men Maggio and Dossena to get into more advanced positions and push Fiorentina back into their own half.

Yebda’s first act was to put in a dangerous cross after getting behind De Silvestri for  Cavani, however Koldrup headed clear. Mihaijlovic turned to Marco Marchionni to counteract the Napoli dominance and took off Montolivo – evidently fatigued and still not at full fitness.

More space opened up for Napoli to play their game now as Fiorentina eased up on the pressing game in favour of having men behind the ball. A good move by Napoli, Paolo Cannavaro came forward into the midfield with the ball to release Cavani. The Striker played a cute one-two with compatriot Gargano, but Cavani’s powerful volley shot was blocked by an offside Lavezzi, when it looked to be troubling an out of position Boruc.

In the last 10 minutes both managers’ intentions were apparent as Bolatti came on the Ljajic for Fiorentina, whereas Napoli’s attacker Dumitru came on for their holding midfielder Pazienza, however the game petered out for a goalless draw.

This means that Napoli failed to get within a point of leaders Milan and will allow the chasing pack to gain points on them. As for Fiorentina, with 4 points from 6 and a return to the top half of the table, this could prove to be a turning point in their season.

Qasa Alom

Broadcast Journalist. Writer for Serieaweekly, subtitled online or anyone else daft enough to want me. These are my thoughts (even the clever ones)

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