A lot of questions have been raised about this Napoli team over the past few weeks as they suffered what was certainly their first real poor patch of the season. There were serious fears that they form had taken a dip at the worst possible time, but they appear to have turned that around with a late, late win over an in-form Juventus. They could now win the Serie A title next weekend, on Matchday 32, with a win and Lazio failing to match them.
The shock 4-0 hammering by AC Milan in Serie A, being knocked out of the Champions League by the same opposition, and a draw against Verona all created a feeling of the season losing its shine for some.
But that was always a reactive viewpoint when you consider just how special it is for Napoli to win the Serie A title. Still, the mood around the team certainly dipped and there were concerns at times in their trip to Turin that they weren’t quite out of the woods just yet.
Suddenly, though, with a stoppage-time Giacomo Raspadori goal against Juventus in Turin on Serie A Matchday 31, all of those positive feelings have come flooding back for Italy’s champions in waiting. They appear to have made it through and are now within touching distance of their first scudetto since 1990.
Juventus come close to victory
In what was an extremely tight game at the Allianz Stadium, it actually seemed that it would be Juventus who snatched all of the points. Angel Di Maria broke through on goal and finished with the calmness that everyone would have expected of a player with his CV.
A foul in the build-up meant that the Argentine’s goal was chalked off and Napoli were given another chance to at least snatch a point from what was a fairly mundane display at large from Luciano Spalletti’s side. But they still hadn’t taken that point.
Juve then got another winner, or so they thought. Dusan Vlahovic turned in a Federico Chiesa pass from close range, only for the assistant referee’s flag to again cut short the celebrations. The ball had crossed the line before Chiesa’s cutback and there was a real sense of injustice around the Allianz, not for the first time this season.
Raspadori the hero
With all the focus being on Napoli’s defence and the potential winning goals from Juventus, Napoli suddenly remembered who they are. The champions-elect raced down the other end to try and take the three points back to Campania with them, and so they did.
Giacomo Raspadori ensured that they did just that with a smart finish inside the box. Eljif Elmas‘ cross appeared to hang in the air for an eternity before falling to Raspadori at the back post, but the former Sassuolo man kept his cool, kept his head down and fired low past Wojciech Szczesny. With his strike, the whole of Italy got a much-needed reminder that Napoli are the best team in the land and they will soon win the title.