Three takeaways from Napoli 1-2 Lazio: The champions have a Kim-shaped hole, Sarri’s Aquile have lift off

Lazio's tough start to the season ended with their 2-1 win at Napoli on Matchday 3, wherein it became evident that Napoli have a Kim Min-jae-shaped hole in their backline, and there were positive signs for Maurizio Sarri's Biancocelesti.

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Napoli‘s perfect start to the new Serie A season was derailed by Lazio on Matchday 3, with the Biancocelesti coming away from the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona with a 2-1 victory. Goals from Luis Alberto and Daichi Kamada meant Piotr Zielinski’s reply to Alberto’s opener, meant little to nothing.

Maurizio Sarri’s side also had two goals overturned after VAR intervention and showed major improvements from their opening two fixtures of the campaign.

However, for Rudi Garcia, the result raises questions as to how and why his Napoli were in the position to concede four times on the night, with the two disallowed Lazio goals being marginal calls.

Felipe Anderson’s inspiring performance

Fans of Serie A know just how good Felipe Anderson can be when he is at his best and his showing against the champions was a fine addition to his catalogue of great performances in a Lazio shirt. Involved in both of the Biancocelesti’s goals, the Brazilian caused several headaches for the Partenopei, particularly on their left.

His first contribution came as a result of poor Napoli defending. After his original attempted pass was blocked, his second is what truly showed his value to Sarri, finding Luis Alberto at the near post for the Spaniard to produce an exquisite finish.

For Lazio’s second, Felipe Anderson intercepted and then got the better of Piotr Zielinksi. Driving his side forward, he then a fed a pass into the middle, which was fired into the bottom corner by Kamada.

With Sarri’s side looking at their best when counterattacking, being able to utilise someone with the skillset of Anderson is something that will be incredibly valuable to the Aquile this season.

Maurizio Sarri during a Lazio game. (@OfficialSSLazio)

Kim Min-jae is gone, and Napoli looked vulnerable at the back

Losing 2-1 against Lazio isn’t in itself cause for huge concern for Napoli. But they were on the right side of fine margins that saved them from humiliation.

Whether looking at the two Lazio goals that counted or the two that were ruled out, it’s clear that Napoli were not at the races defensively. For Luis Alberto’s opener, the marking needed to be tighter; for Kamada’s winner, he shouldn’t have been allowed to shoot in that position or afforded so much space in such an important part of the pitch.

For the first of the offside goals, albeit from a counterattack, new signing Matteo Guendouzi inexplicably had the entirety of the Napoli half to run into or pass into. For the second, the Frenchman should’ve been closed down before his strike.

Last season the Azzurri were renowned for scoring, but just as recognised as being defensively resolute. Against Lazio they looked a shadow of that side.

This may be looked back on as an anomaly, but the presence of Kim Min-jae was sincerely missed against the Aquile and that is something that other teams will notice.

Napoli coach Rudi Garcia. [@sscnapoli

Matteo Guendouzi’s positive Lazio debut

Lazio were always going to struggle to replace Sergej Milinkovic-Savic. But what if, they didn’t have to replace, but rather re-think the role? Sarri seems to have done just that and may have found a new heir to the position.

Matteo Guendouzi arrived on August 31, initially on loan but with an obligation to buy in the 2024 summer transfer window for €17 million including add-ons. Although he only played 35 minutes against Napoli, Lazio fans got more than just an idea of what kind of player they have on their hands.

After leaving Arsenal for Marseille, Guendouzi has seemingly been on a mission to prove he can still reach the levels once expected of him. For a future fee of only €17m, Sarri may have found a long-term replacement for the departed Milinkovic-Savic.

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