Monday, January 24, 2022

Juventus 1-1 Napoli: Chiesa strike denies COVID-hit visitors in Turin

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 6 Jan 2022

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Federico Chiesa cancelled out a Dries Mertens strike as Juventus and COVID-hit opponents Napoli played out a 1-1 draw at the Allianz Stadium.

Thursday’s game was in doubt right until kick-off due to a coronavirus outbreak in the visitors’ camp that left them without a number of players, as well as boss Luciano Spalletti.

Napoli led at half-time through Mertens’ low drive, but returning winger Chiesa equalised for Juventus early in the second half and that is how the open and lively contest finished.

Juve are now unbeaten in six and move to within three points of fourth-placed Atalanta, who have a game in hand, while Napoli stay in third.

Weston McKennie headed wide from a glorious position and Chiesa, who missed Juve’s previous six games with a thigh injury, tested David Ospina in a bright start for the hosts.

It was Napoli who took the lead with 23 minutes played, however, thanks to a Mertens effort that beat Wojciech Szczesny and covering defender Matthijs de Ligt on the line.

Alvaro Morata miscued wide from Juve’s next big chance, but the hosts were level soon after as Chiesa’s shot deflected off Stanislav Lobotka and left Ospina wrong-footed.

Chiesa would have had a quickfire second if not for a good stop from the Napoli keeper, while Szczesny was equal to Mertens’ shot at the other end as the contest opened up.

Despite the best efforts of both sides, including a scrambled Ospina save to keep out substitute Paulo Dybala, there was to be no winner in Turin.

What does it mean? Experienced Napoli take a point

Without the likes of Victor Osimhen, Hirving Lozano and Fabian Ruiz because of coronavirus, and with Kalidou Koulibaly one of three players away on Africa Cup of Nations duty, there is little wonder that Napoli wanted this game postponed.

The visitors fielded their oldest starting line-up in the three-points-per-win era in Serie A and really got at their opponents, becoming just the second side – after Lazio in August 2013 – to get in more than 10 shots in a first half against Juve at the Allianz Stadium.

Despite Chiesa’s leveller in the second half, the absent Spalletti will surely be content to come away from Turin with a point – just the second time in 11 games Napoli have avoided defeat away to Juve.

Deadly Dries

Napoli may have been without an array of talent, but they did at least have Mertens to lead their line at the Allianz Stadium.

The Belgium international now has six league goals for the season, each of those coming since the beginning of November – double that of any other Napoli player.

More needed from Morata

Morata was this week linked with a January move to Barcelona, something Massimiliano Allegri was quick to quell, but the striker had another quiet game here.

He was off target from his only shot and had just two touches in the Napoli box in 75 minutes. For comparison, Chiesa managed nine in 81 minutes, scoring from one of those.

What’s next?

Juventus return to action with a trip to Jose Mourinho’s Roma on Sunday, the same day that Napoli host Sampdoria at Stadio Diego Armando Maradona.

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