A slow start proved costly for Torino in Sunday’s early Serie A fixture as Napoli left the Stadio Olimpico with a 3-1 win over the Granata.
Lorenzo Insigne celebrated his wife Jenny’s 26th birthday as he opened the scoring with just three minutes on the clock and it was two before the midway point of the first half. Andrea Belotti pulled one back early in the second, but Insigne then made sure of the points before the hour mark.
It didn’t take long for the day’s first goal. Sebastiano Luperto delivered a low cross into the area that looked easy for the Toro defence to deal with, but Emiliano Moretti instead kicked the ball straight at Nicolas Nkoulou’s waist, which then fell into Insigne’s path and he emphatically smashed into the roof of the net.
Napoli then looked like they could score at will, though Salvatore Sirigu did all he could to keep them out, including a big save to deny Kalidou Koulibaly from close range. Armando Izzo almost diverted into his own goal as he put a cross behind for a corner.
Before much longer Napoli’s lead had doubled through Simone Verdi. Dries Mertens perfectly executed a reverse pass from the left with his left foot that landed on the penalty spot and into Verdi’s path, allowing the Italian to dispatch a first-time effort into Sirigu’s goal.
Torino were given hope just five minutes into the second half. Alejandro Berenguer brought the ball into the box before being fouled by Luperto and Andrea Belotti made no mistake as he calmly converted from the spot, sending David Ospina the wrong way to mark his 50th Serie A goal.
The goal gave life to the home support and the noise levels in the Olimpico increased, at least for a few minutes. A free-kick on the edge of the Napoli box was awarded within seconds of the restart and the atmosphere upped again as the Curva Maratona did their best to draw the ball into the goal in front of them.
It didn’t last though as Insigne soon made it three. Callejon found space on the right of the box and drove a shot against the far upright, which landed back to Insigne. The Italian’s subsequent effort bounced off the inside of the other post but this time made its way into the net.
Napoli’s fluid and versatile attack
Under Maurizio Sarri the Partenopei’s attack was devastating, on their day. One criticism of the current Chelsea boss was his insistence to play with the same trio of Insigne, Mertens and Callejon each week.
With Carlo Ancelotti now in charge and changing things up systematically, it is almost impossible to predict how they will line up. Even within a given game, their forward options are given the freedom to swap place and roam the pitch.
Verdi’s selection in the starting XI made for interesting reading beforehand and his inclusion in the side only made them more unpredictable. They played a 4-4-2 and the start, 4-2-3-1 at points and even shaping in something of a 4-3-3 as well.
What remained constant was Callejon’s presence on the right, but aside from the Spaniard the front four, or three, interchanged and found themselves on the left, as a No.10 and leading the line at different points.
Ancelotti trusts his depth
Luperto, Verdi and Marko Rog all started at the Olimpico, while Nikola Maksimovic came on in the second half as Ancelotti showed the trust that he has in his squad going beyond his first choice XI.
Last season the Partenopei tired at the end of the campaign and the minutes accumulated throughout the course of the season took their tole as they came up short in their chase of the Scudetto.
While a title challenge is unlikely this term, the experienced boss is using his players wisely and affording important players, namely Allan, a chance to rest for at least some of the game.
If Napoli are to threaten either domestically or in Europe this season, rotations could prove invaluable.