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Juventus 3-0 Napoli: 6 Things We Learned

Jack Alexandros RathbornContributor IIINovember 10, 2013

Juventus 3-0 Napoli: 6 Things We Learned

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    Lintao Zhang/Getty Images

    Juventus vs. Napoli was a crucial game given that both teams are the hot favourites for the title this season, not to mention an opportunity to further close in on the league leaders Roma.

    The Giallorossi dropped two points at home to Sassuolo, and even though very few expect the Lupi to be able to sustain a title push, the Old Lady are now just one point behind, despite Rudi Garcia's side enjoying the best-ever start to a season on the Peninsula.

    Given that both teams have been juggling intense schedules that have included tough groups in the Champions League, Juve will be delighted with the result, as it opens up a significant gap between the sides.

    Two very special goals from one of the greatest players of a generation, Andrea Pirlo, and potentially what could become one of the greatest players of this coming generation, Paul Pogba, sealed the deal in a comfortable victory.

    Here are six things that we learned.

Stephan Lichtsteiner Cannot Return Soon Enough

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    Stephan Lichtsteiner's injury might not have been something that Juventini would have expected to be a crucial blow to the side.

    But Antonio Conte may just appreciate the Swiss international more after nine matches out.

    The former Lazio player has been sorely missed due to his consistency at the right-midfield slot, and while Mauricio Isla has the potential to push him eventually, there are no signs that Lichtsteiner will have to sweat over his place any time soon.

    Isla continues to find himself in great positions on the right flank, often with time and space, but he never uses the ball nearly as intelligently as Lichtsteiner does, with his erratic delivery clear to see versus Napoli.

    Isla doesn't offer the same tactical awareness that Lichtsteiner does, either. Lorenzo Insigne picked up the ball at will on the left flank and danced inside, something that would have been prevented more had Lichtsteiner played.

    The sooner that the 29-year-old is back, the better, as Juve's right flank begins to become a strength, rather than a weakness.

Napoli Showing Vulnerability Early in Games

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    Napoli have started to show a weakness in the way they begin matches.

    It happened against Arsenal in the Champions League, and Juventus exposed this fault on Sunday.

    Against the Gunners the damage was too much to overcome, and the Bianconeri probably should have put the game out of sight as well.

    A horrendous line, which probably should have caught Fernando Llorente offside, led to the opener, with a litany of errors to point at.

    The Partenopei were caught sleeping moments later too, when Paul Pogba was able to guide a header back across goal.

    Leonardo Bonucci and Carlos Tevez were left unmarked, and it was the centre-back whose point-blank header should have doubled the lead.

    Pepe Reina was able to pull off a miracle save to keep the game alive, but Napoli cannot let this continue to happen in the big games.

Fernando Llorente Now Deserves to Start Permanently

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    Fernando Llorente has endured a slow start to his Juventus career, but he now appears to be well into the swing of things.

    The Spaniard has now scored four goals in 11 games, although four of those appearances came as a substitute.

    Crucially though, they have all been big goals. His first was the winner against a dangerous Hellas Verona in a 2-1 victory, while two came against Real Madrid before another against Juve's biggest rivals in Serie A on Sunday.

    Mirko Vucinic appeared to be Conte's preferred partner for Tevez, but the Montenegrin's injury has offered a chance to the former Athletic Club forward.

    Fabio Quagliarella is always a reliable option, but Llorente offers more, and Tevez is gradually showing an understanding with the 28-year-old, which was always the argument for starting Quagliarella.

    Conte will now feel comfortable moving forward with the Spaniard, and if Tevez can begin to fire again, Juve will have one of Europe's most lethal strike partnerships.

The Signing of Reveillere Could Prove Useful

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    Napoli made a quiet addition to their squad this week with the signing of former Lyon full-back Anthony Reveillere.

    The 34-year-old, who has been without a club since the summer, might be past his best, but he will prove to be a clever addition by Benitez.

    The Frenchman can offer competition to Christian Maggio, Pablo Armero and Juan Zuniga, who should return from injury after the international break.

    Giandomenico Mesto will be injured until March with a cruciate knee ligament injury, which prompted this move for the free-agent right-back.

    Mesto was in fact perhaps Benitez's preferred option of all the full-backs, simply down to his comfort at playing in a back four.

    The others are more inclined to play in more advanced positions down the flank, so Reveillere's experience will become handy for Benitez.

    Juve showed that this is a vulnerable area for the Partenopei and that they struggle to deal with balls into the channels in behind the full-backs.

    He may only be a short-term option, but Reveillere can at least push the aforementioned full-back options to quicken their adaption to the back four, or provide a more defensively sound option when pitted against the bigger sides.

Hamsik Needs to Stop Drifting in the Big Games to Replace Cavani

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    Marek Hamsik is beloved by Napoli fans, but he is yet to reach the status enjoyed by Edinson Cavani, who led by example in the biggest of games in a better way than the Slovakian.

    Marekiaro is having a great season, of that there is no doubt, but he tends to drift in and out of games, whereas El Matador would take control and make the difference when the game was in the balance.

    The 26-year-old must prove that he deserves to be considered one of Europe's premier attacking midfielders by making the difference in these massive games.

    Cavani was able to do so, as was Ezequiel Lavezzi to an extent, so Benitez will demand that Hamsik step up over the coming weeks to justify the side being built around him.

Pogba Cements Place over Marchisio, Greatness Beckons

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    Paul Pogba is a phenomenon. That much is clear after the Frenchman continued to star in the midfield for the Bianconeri.

    Unfortunately for Juventini, one of their own in Claudio Marchisio has lost his place as a result of the 20-year-old's fine form.

    With Arturo Vidal and Andrea Pirlo sure to star, it is hard to see how Il Principino will come back into Conte's starting lineup.

    Pogba was not at his best, but he offers such a huge threat physically, with his long running style that brought about the nickname Polpo Paul (Paul the octopus), that Juve can cut through sides in transition with the French international driving them on.

    Now with a tendency to win aerial duels from set pieces and an intelligence to redirect the ball into the path of a teammate, Pogba certainly gives the Bianconeri a new dimension.

    This was clear in the first half when Leonardo Bonucci should have scored from a headed pass across the six-yard box from Pogba. With Pirlo's accuracy from set pieces, it is going to become a greater part of the Old Lady's game moving forward.

    It is unlikely that Pogba will feel any heat directly from Marchisio any time soon, with Conte making it clear that he is an integral part of his team.

    The goal to clinch the win and make it 3-0 was one of the best goals in European football this season. Whether he intended to shoot by flicking the ball up in the first place is another matter.

    But having got to the stage where the ball was dropping from above his height, to even think of striking the ball towards goal shows the confidence that this young man has in his ability.

    Then Pogba displayed his ball-striking quality, by swiping a volley past Reina before he could even react, leaving Juventini in utter amazement at another glimpse of what will surely become one of Europe's greatest footballers.

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