06 January 2022
Juventus kicked off 2022 with a point against Napoli but probably should have taken all three, despite having to come from behind following Dries Mertens' first-half strike against the run of play.
Bolstered by the return of some key players, the Bianconeri looked in good shape and had the lion's share of the chances. Federico Chiesa restored parity but Juve weren't able to get another and close the gap in the table with the visitors.
JUVE'S BRIGHT START
Massimiliano Allegri recalled Chiesa from the outset and the Italy player was presented with an inviting opportunity following high team pressing but his shot was deflected behind. The chance that followed from the resulting corner was even more inviting with Weston McKennie getting away to head across missing by just a whisker.
Juventus pushed on with energy going forward and a solid defensive line giving Napoli only two hopeful long-distance opportunities in the first twenty minutes for Lorenzo Insigne.
MERTENS PUTS NAPOLI AHEAD
It was Napoli’s first true chance with which they took the lead. Insigne put Matteo Politano into the area, he held the ball up and knocked it back to Mertens, whose right-footed shot along the ground went through a sea of legs. Wojciech Szczesny got a touch but not enough to get it away from goal and enough to put it away from Matthijs de Ligt on the line giving the visitors the lead.
The Bianconeri tried to hit back but couldn’t do themselves justice. There was a shot from Juan Cuadrado who cut across goal but their play became a tad frenetic and Napoli were able to hold on. Shortly before half time Piotr Zielinski’s shot from outside the area had Szczesny stretching to tip the ball over the bar followed by a free kick from Mertens which missed the target by very little.
Juve started brightly after the restart and link-up play between Chiesa and Alvaro Morata put the Spaniard in only for him to miss hit it. The Bianconeri were immediately back in play and when Cuadrado dummied the ball to McKennie, the equaliser came. The American controlled the ball and played a cross to Morata which was met by the head of Amir Rrahmani but his clearance fell to the feet of Chiesa, who didn’t think twice before hitting the ball, with his shot taking a deflection to take it past David Ospina despite his efforts to stop it.
JUVE PUSH AND NAPOLI DEFEND
Juve were now on the charge searching for the lead. Chiesa’s right-footed shot forced Ospina to punch away and the follow-up from McKennie missed by a whisker. Napoli responded with an effort from Mertens which was pushed away by Szczesny.
Massimiliano Allegri made replacements in the 65th minute with Rodrigo Bentancur and Paulo Dybala coming on for Adrien Rabiot and Federico Bernardeschi and it was the Argentine who shortly after coming on won the ball in the attacking third and let fly with a shot from 25 metres which Ospina was able to manage.
Ten minutes later Mattia De Sciglio replaced Alex Sandro and Moise Kean was on for Morata while for the last ten minutes of the game Dejan Kulusevski was called on to replace Chiesa.
Juve were a team with a newfound energy but the game kept being halted and any attempt to get near Ospina’s goal was pushed back by Napoli, who relied on their experience to hold out for a draw and the point which saw no changes in the standings even if it doesn’t do justice to the way the Bianconeri played.
JUVENTUS 1-1 NAPOLI (HT 0-1)
SCORERS: Mertens 23, Chiesa 54
Szczesny; Cuadrado, Rugani, De Ligt, Alex Sandro (De Sciglio 75); McKennie, Locatelli, Rabiot (Bentancur 66); Chiesa (Kulusevski 81), Morata (Kean 75), Bernardeschi (Dybala 65)
Subs not used: Perin, Senko, Arthur.
Ospina; Di Lorenzo, Rrhamani, Juan Jesus, Ghoulam; Demme, Lobotka (Zanoli 90+2); Politano (Elmas 76), Zielinski, Insigne; Mertens (Petagna 89).
Subs not used: Marfella, Idasiak, Spedalieri, Costanzo, Vergara.
ASSISTANTS: Giallatini, Preti
FOURTH OFFICIAL: Marcenaro
VAR: Irrati, Meli