The Technical Observer panel of UEFA analyzes another goal-filled Napoli victory in the group stage, with this one largely down to their raiding full-backs and superb wide players.
Wednesday’s victory over Ajax by Napoli, who are currently leading Group A, saw them extend their record winning streak to nine games across all competitions.
The competition’s 17-goal leaders, who earned an early spot in the round of 16, thanks to their fourth victory in the group, are highlighted for their attacking danger in this analysis piece from the UEFA Technical Observer panel, brought to you by FedEx.
Hirving Lozano leads 0 to 1 (4)
The Mexican winger caught the ball wide on the right, cut inside, passed it to Piotr Zieliski in the middle, and then continued to sprint past the Ajax defense to meet the Polish midfielder’s gorgeously lofted, first-time return ball. The floated header by Lozano over Remko Pasveer was an equally beautiful finish.
Giacomo Raspadori defeated 0 to 2 (16)
The second goal was also made possible by Zieliski, who combined with Khvicha Kvaratskhelia down the left before the Georgian slid the ball across to Raspadori. Raspadori took a couple of touches before unleashing an incredible left-foot shot that sailed high inside the near post. With that, the 22-year-old Napoli center-forward joined Alessandro Del Piero and Fabrizio Ravanelli as the only Italian players to score in each of their first three UEFA Champions League games (both in 1995).
1 through 2: Davy Klaassen (49)
For the entirety of the game, Calvin Bassey dutifully performed the duties of his fullback position. He then advanced to set up Klaassen’s fourth goal of the year by sending a first-time cross from the left, which the midfielder met with a thunderous header from eight meters away that was too strong for Alex Meret to stop.
Khvicha Kvaratshelia’s ratio is 3 to 1. (62, pen)
Kvaratskhelia took his first penalty kick for Napoli after a handball call against Jurrin Timber, with regular taker Matteo Politano sitting on the sidelines. He delivered an impressive finish, firing high into the right-hand corner.
Steven Bergwijn is ahead 3 to 2. (83, pen)
After it was determined that Juan Jesus had hauled over replacement Brian Brobbey just inside the area, Bergwijn skillfully scored the resulting penalty, using strength and dexterity to beat Meret to his right even though the goalkeeper had correctly predicted the move.
Victor Osimhen is ahead 4 to 0. (90)
Substitute Osimhen rushed to close him down, snatched the ball off Daley Blind, who was dithering over a back pass to his goalie, and rolled it into an open goal.
Khvicha Kvaratshelia was named the game’s top performer.
In the blue of Napoli, the Georgian international is having a fantastic debut season. His assist for Raspadori was his third of the group stage, and he has scored in five of his previous six games for club and country. The most of any Serie A player this season, he has contributed directly to 12 goals across all competitions (seven goals, five assists).
The technical observer for UEFA observed of the 21-year-old: “He was threatening throughout, teeing up one goal and scoring the decisive third from the penalty spot. His quickness and dribbling offered fantastic goal scoring possibilities for his team.”
Setting up in a 4 to 3 to 3, Luciano Spalletti’s team adopted a highly offensive stance, with both full-backs, Giovanni Di Lorenzo (22) and Mathas Olivera (17), advancing – sometimes both at the same time. While André-Frank Zambo Anguissa (99) and Zieliski (20) joined the attacks, Stanislav Lobotka (68) remained in midfield and controlled the game. Wide forwards Lozano (11) and Kvaratskhelia (77) kept their width further upfield but occasionally moved inside. Raspadori, a center-forward, spent the most of his effort (81) slipping past the Ajax defense.
With a narrow back four to prevent Ajax from advancing from behind, Napoli’s defensive shape was a close-knit 4 to 5 to 1.