Koulibaly Vs Ibrahimovic: How Did Napoli Centre-Back Fare Against Colossal Swede?

Koulibaly Vs Ibrahimovic: How Did Napoli Centre-Back Fare Against Colossal Swede?

The azzurri were defeated by AC Milan at the Stadio San Paolo, with Zlatan taking center stage in Naples at the expense of K2

The eighth day of Serie A closed with the most important match of the weekend between Napoli and AC Milan at the Stadio San Paolo, with Gennaro Gattuso’s team aiming to do what no other top Italian team had ever done. achieved since March: beat the Rossoneri.

Aside from ending Milan’s unbeaten streak in the league, the Azzurri he needed a declaration victory over a superior team to banish the events of a recent home loss to Sassuolo.

In addition, this was how his absence at Juventus in early October caused the Neapolitan team to miss the opportunity to score a score for the 2020/21 season. Certainly, there was a great victory over Atalanta midway. October, which came when the The Dea They were flying in the league, yet the games that followed that 4-1 hammering indicate that Gian Piero Gasperini’s troops are not from the same team as they were last season. On a personal front, Kalidou Koulibaly had the perfect opportunity to take on mega-star form Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who had scored in all five league appearances prior to Sunday. The Swede had already scored eight times, so the Senegal central was not going to have an easy time at the back.

Having also missed a possible showdown with Cristiano Ronaldo, Koulibaly vs Zlatan represented one of the main subplots, as Milan sought their first victory in Naples in a decade.

The opening minute indicated how close the West African would be to the 39-year-old, who needed all his wits to beat the central defender 10 years younger than him. The former Serie A best defender outpointed Ibrahimovic on his first antenna in the seventh minute, though events some 60 seconds later demonstrated the forward’s sharpness.

After Franck Kessie intercepted a pass from Matteo Politano, Ante Rebic received the ball from the Ivorian, before setting it up for Hakan Calhanoglu.

When Turkey’s playmaker received possession, Zlatan immediately sank deep into the space left free by Tiemoue Bakayoko, who had been briefly knocked out of position by Alexis Saelemaekers’ inside run, leaving Koulibaly in two minds as to whether to go with. forward or stay in position. .

He half pushed up, leaving Kostas Manolas with no choice but to mark Saelemaekers, as the gap opened in the left inner channel. Ibrahimovic watched Rebic’s career on that channel and released the Croatian whose eventual shot was tame. Koulibaly wasn’t punished for this indiscriminate mistake but that moment was a foreboding warning for the 29-year-old defender, who struggled with the smart positions taken. up front for most procedures.

In fact, this was evident in the two goals scored by the experienced leader. For the first time in 20 minutes, the Senegal central had no idea where Zlatan was as Theo Hernández prepared to send a cross into the box.

It is commonly said that a defender is in trouble once the attacking player has a clear view of his jersey number … and so it turned out in this case, as the forward beat West Africa in delivery to deservedly send out the visitors 1-0 ahead from the start. .

Interestingly, K2 didn’t seem to carry that lesson with him for the remainder of the game going through second from the forward.

After Napoli fumbled deep in the Milan half, as the visitors’ movement unfolded with Calhanoglu advancing, Koulibaly actually has Ibrahimovic in his sights as the Turk makes a clever pass into space for Rebic to run. toward the left. .

However, the clever Swede changed the trajectory of his career and moved behind center-back and ahead of left-back Mario Rui. Rebic then sent a brilliant cross to the forward who deflected the ball into goal with his right thigh to put the Rossoneri up 2-0 in the 54th minute.

Although the Senegal center-back could have done better, the forward’s astuteness to recognize the situation and position himself behind the two defenders was admirable, while Rebic’s delivery was top-notch.

Koulibaly had one of his least impressive games of the season so far, losing four of five ground fights and five of seven aerial fights. Zlatan took the beating of the Napoli man until his substitution with 11 minutes of regulation time to play, whose strange weakness in the corners especially was almost exploited by the Swede and Simon Kjaer in the second half.

In general, however, especially in possession, the central prospered. He played six progressive passes, the third highest for the hosts, and completed 10 passes in the final third; only Fabián Ruiz with 13 successful passes played a higher volume.

He was ranked third for getting the ball into the opponent’s goal, while at times he looked like a left back as the team struggled for an out in the first 45 minutes.

Be that as it may, Koulibaly is paid to defend first and seemed unable to cope with Ibrahimovic’s ingenuity at key moments on Sunday.

This ultimately led to Napoli’s second loss at home on the trot, as they finally surrendered a decade-long undefeated streak at San Paolo against hitherto irrepressible Milan.

source: – target