13 January 2023
A run of eight successive wins in the league without conceding a goal was definitively ended by Napoli in Serie A Matchday 18. The game that could have opened up the title chase instead saw the Neapolitan side run out 5-1 winners to stretch their advantage over the Bianconeri at the top of the standings to 10 points.
Federico Chiesa made his first start in just over a year, adding to the Bianconeri’s attacking potential in support of Ángel Di María and Arkadiusz Milik.
However, it was the hosts that started on the front foot. After a quarter of an hour, Victor Osimhen sneaked in behind the Juve defence but his close range shot lacked power.
A minute later, though, the striker demonstrated his finishing ability. A cross from Matteo Politano was met on the volley by Khvicha Kvaratskhelia. Wojciech Szczęsny made an acrobatic stop but Osimhen pounced on the rebound to head home from close range.
Juventus responded to falling behind and had chances for a quick equaliser. First Di María latched onto a misplaced pass out of defence by the home side. El Fideo looked up and struck a shot from distance, which clipped the top of the crossbar. Four minutes later, Di María delivered an interesting cross, which was met by Milik. The striker’s header forced Alex Meret into his first save of the evening.
The home goalkeeper was put to the test again from a corner, met by Bremer inside the six-yard area, but the central defender couldn’t keep his header down despite outjumping Meret.
Then Napoli doubled their lead on 39 minutes and again it was a combination between Osimhen and Kvaratskhelia that did the damage. The Georgian winger latched onto the pass from Osimhen and dispatched his shot beyond Szczęsny.
Juve pulled a goal back immediately. Di María played a one-two at the edge of the area with Manuel Locatelli, then found the ball at his feet again from a short pass from Milik. This time the Argentine placed his shot firmly into the net.
Just before the break it was almost level. Amir Rrahmani turned a cross towards his own goal but Meret produced a fantastic reflex save to keep the ball out.
Despite an early goal line clearance from home captain Giovanni Di Lorenzo from a dangerous Juve corner, the second half was dominated by Napoli. The league leaders added three goals in a 17 minute burst. First from Rrahmani who met a corner kick. 10 minutes later Osimhen added his second, from another cross from Kvaratskhelia.
Juve failed to respond and fell further behind, when Alex Sandro diverted an Eljif Elmas drive beyond Szczęsny.
Napoli proved to be worth their commanding lead at the top of the table, but for Juve there is little time to lick their wounds. On Thursday there is the visit from Monza in the Coppa Italia before the Bianconeri host Atalanta in the last match of the first half of the season.