Calabria plays lockdown defense

Kvaratskhelia has been maybe the revelation of the European season at Napoli, an inverted winger who has turned pretty much every defense he’s come up against into confetti. He was given nothing by Calabria, which blunted Napoli’s attack into not much more than a kitten’s paw.


And even when Napoli did manage to get crosses into the box, almost all of them found the defiant dome of either Fikayo Tomori or Simon Kjær. Napoli attempted 45 crosses yesterday, and only 10 of them found a teammate, such was the obstreperous nature of Tomori and Kjær (my principal once called me that in grade school and I’ve coopted the adjective for my own devices, in case you were wondering. Revenge is sweet).

The goals the Rossoneri needed

Of course, you still need to score, and Milan only required two marvelous pieces of individualism on the counter to get the goals they needed. We went over Brahim Díaz’s turn in the first leg that led to Ismaël Bennacer’s winner, but no reason we can’t enjoy it again:


Yesterday, it was Rafael Leão’s turn, as he picked up a loose ball some 85 yards from goal and thought he’d have a nice jog through half the Napoli team before setting up Olivier Giroud:


And that was that. Napoli pulled a goal back late, but it was always just a consolation. The beauty, so we’re told, of catenaccio is that it’s simple. You defend well, you take your chance when you inevitably get it on the counter, you win. A reference to the simplicity of Italian cuisine or life, really. Sometimes soccer is just that simple. When you have defenders playing this well, and players like Diaz and Leão capable of turning the field into their own personal F1 track, what more do you need?

Follow Sam on Twitter @Felsgate as he talks himself into Xabi Alonso taking over for Jurgen Klopp in the near future.