The value of seemingly meaningless friendlies was thrust into the spotlight on Monday as Paris Saint-Germain lost captain Thiago Silva to injury during their Acqua Lete Cup clash with Napoli.
PSG came from behind to win the game 2-1, with goals from Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Javier Pastore cancelling out Gonzalo Higuain's effort, but it was the sight of Silva being helped down the tunnel by two PSG staff members that will command the attention.
PSG began their Ligue 1 campaign last weekend, drawing 2-2 with Reims, but they could well be facing their next few matches without Silva.
On 13 minutes, the Brazilian star attempted a back heel while facing his own goal. In doing so, his hamstring appeared to give, and he was immediately substituted.
Treatment was administered on the touchline before he was helped down the tunnel looking in real discomfort.
A mild hamstring injury can take weeks to come good, while a severe tear would be a huge blow to PSG’s plans.
And given the injury occurred in a friendly, after the start of the season, will only rub salt into the wounds of manager Laurent Blanc and player.
Thiago Silva tries a backheel, and now he's limping off. Great idea this friendly ;) #PSG Marquinhos on. Looks like his hamstring. Bad news— Andrew Gibney (@Gibney_A) August 11, 2014
Edinson Cavani was returning to his former hunting ground, and he thought he had scored early on, but his effort from an excellent Ezequiel Lavezzi free-kick was rightly ruled out for offside.
The Napoli fans' welcome for Cavani was not exactly warm, jeers greeting every touch for the Uruguayan.
While PSG looked sharp early on, they were soon forced onto the back foot by Napoli.
Lorenzo Insigne burrowed his way into the box and forced a save from Salvatore Sirugi. Marek Hamsik had a shot charged down, and then Yohan Cabaye nodded Duvan Zapata's header off the line.
Napoli boss Rafael Benitez threw on Michu at the interval, and he came close to making a brilliant first impression. Connecting with a volley 20 yards from goal, Michu's shot forced a fine save out of Nicolas Douchez, who was introduced at half-time for Sirigu.
The Napoli pressure continued, and Higuain, another substitute, started and finished the move that put the home side ahead on 51 minutes.
The Argentine carried the ball forward before slipping a pass into the path of Insigne. His shot was parried, and Higuain was on hand to turn the ball home.
The lead did not last long, as Ibrahimovic turned a loose ball home after Napoli had failed to clear their lines.
Douchez could possibly have done better with the Napoli goal, but he kept his side on level terms on 69 minutes with a fine reflex save to thwart a volley from Insigne.
On his PSG debut, David Luiz was denied a goal on 77 minutes when Mariano Andujar stuck out a left arm to keep out the Brazilian’s header.
Seconds later, Pastore grabbed the winner for PSG. A brilliant individual run saw Pastore glide past Napoli defenders before smashing a shot beyond Andujar.
It is another trophy in the bag for PSG, but the cost of losing Silva could outweigh the gain.
For Napoli, it is another step on the road to the opening game of the Serie A season and a Champions League qualification clash with Athletic Bilbao, and manager Benitez was happy with the display.
“The team worked well both in attack and defence,” Benitez said, according to Football Italia. “We played a top-level opponent but we showed we have made a step forward.
“We have players who can make the difference, I have faith.”
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!