A rampant Napoli side produced an excellent performance against Udinese on Wednesday evening, winning their Serie A Matchday 6 fixture 4-1 with star forwards Victor Osimhen and Khvicha Kvaratskhelia playing key roles in the victory.
The Nigerian striker atoned for his penalty miss against Bologna by finding the back of the net against the Zebrette while the Georgian winger was involved in three out of four Partenopei goals.
Rudi Garcia may have replaced Luciano Spalletti as Napoli coach, but this vintage display against Udinese was reminiscent of the Serie A title-winning form under the current Italy Men’s National Team coach in 2022/23, and the Partenopei showed a swagger that was missing in the earlier rounds of this season.
Udinese had no answers for the Neapolitans, and they have been lacking in inspiration without the injured Gerard Deulofeu. The Zebrette find themselves in the relegation zone and have yet to win a Serie A match in 2023/24.
Osimhen lets his football do the talking
Prior to this match, there was controversy as a video clip mocking Victor Osimhen’s penalty miss against Bologna was uploaded onto Napoli‘s TikTok account and then deleted. This triggered some backlash with his agent Roberto Calenda threatening legal action against the club and the Nigeria international has deleted multiple posts on social media linking him with the Partenopei.
When it came to matters on the pitch, the 24-year-old demonstrated his class, running onto a delightful assist from Matteo Politano to score Napoli’s second goal of the game. It was the fourth goal of this Serie A campaign from Osimhen, and he also had other opportunities to add to his tally. He might have touched the ball just 18 times, but he knew how to get into the right positions.
Osimhen came off for Giovanni Simeone after 63 minutes and received a standing ovation from the home fans at the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona as a sign of gratitude for his goalscoring talents. Even if there is still some angst over the TikTok post, the Nigerian showed that his ability to score goals is the most important thing for Napoli.
Kvaratskhelia scores first Serie A goal since March
Khvicha Kvaratskhelia had not scored a goal in Serie A since the 4-0 victory against Torino in March this year, so he was relieved when he scored against Udinese on Wednesday night.
The 22-year-old had hit the frame of the goal twice in the game, then in the 74th minute, he dispossessed Jaka Bijol before delicately chipping the ball over Zebrette goalkeeper Marco Silvestri and putting the ball into the empty net. Kvaratskhelia had also earned the penalty that Piotr Zielinski dispatched in the first half, and he supplied a cross from the left wing for Simeone to seal the win.
Kvaradona ran to the Napoli fans after the goal and it should serve as a needed boost in confidence. One of the revelations of 2022/23 season and the Serie A MVP, the Georgian seems to have regained a spring in his step and can become a major influence on the Partenopei again.
Udinese look hapless and uninspired without Deulofeu
As great as Napoli were on Wednesday night, Udinese have been lacklustre this season, and they are devoid of creativity without the diminutive Spaniard Gerard Deulofeu.
The 29-year-old has not played since late 2022 due to a knee injury, and the Friulani do not pose much of a counter-attacking without him. Florian Thauvin has not filled the void up front, and although Lazar Samardzic scored with a fantastic solo effort against the Partenopei, the Serbian midfielder has not recaptured his form from last season after his potential transfer to Inter collapsed.
There isn’t a guaranteed time when Deulofeu will return and Udinese will keep struggling without him to inspire the team. No system or philosophy can replace the individual brilliance the Spaniard possesses.