August 2007. March 1983. Not much would seem to suggest a link between these two months. And yet, a very significant link exists, at least in my insignificant little world. August 2007 marked the first time I would see Napoli at San Paolo in a Serie A match since...March 1983. And today, like then, the opponent was Cagliari. That Napoli battled to survive relegation. This Napoli is (probably) gonna battle to survive relegation. Cagliari? Pretty much the same deal. Which of the two clubs is going to have an easier time of it remains to be seen, but judging by yesterday's game, Napoli has a long way to go. It's true that overall, Napoli's play wasn't all that bad. The 0-2 scoreline is worse than what the team deserved, especially since Cagliari managed to score the two goals with one shot on goal (well, slight exagerration...Foggia did have a shot that was easily saved...maybe there was another shot too...hell, it just sounds cool to say that they scored 2 goals with one shot, there you have it). Cagliari had one solid offensive play and they put the ball in. The penalty was a true gift...Napoli's defense, the only part of the team that left a little to be desired, decided to make things even more challenging since a 1-0 deficit wasn't enough to have to overcome and gave Cagliari a bad penalty. Cannavaro's and Domizzi's absences were felt. On a positive note, all the new players looked pretty good: Hamsik - this dude is a rockstar. Very gifted player. Very unlucky not to walk off the pitch with at least 2 goals. Only real complaint is that he is too altruistic. A couple of times he should have shot instead of going for the fancy pass, but otherwise the best player for Napoli yesterday. Gargano - kid is solid. He needs to play every minute of every game. Cupi - managed to do well in a department (defense) that struggled with what little Cagliari through at it. Lavezzi - here is the controversial subject. Did he play well or was he worthless? My personal opinion is that although he had trouble synching up with the squad, he definitely threw some skill out there not to mention considerable effort. For one thing, he always sought the ball and never shied away from it (the sign of a true champion) and on a couple of occasions pursued opponents off the ball well back into our end. A waste of energy perhaps but hey, one thing you can't accuse him of is holding back. The key will be for Reja to figure out how to employ him tactically (not holding my breath). His position seemed odd, and almost seemed to be a "go where you please when you please" tactic. Was he supporting the forwards? Was he a forward? Was he a winger? Was he falling back to defend? Who knows. He was all over. I think that if he and/or Reja can figure out where he should fit in the grand scheme of things, we will have ourselves a little champion on our hands. Blasi - not sure what shape he was in coming into this match, but the gap in Serie A experience between him and everyone else in midfield was pretty obvious. Zalayeta - jury still out. Don't think he is an ideal target man (Lavezzi plays off the centerforward without being one himself). Can provide whatever additional support, but if Calaio' proves not up to the task (he was dreadful yesterday), Zalayeta wouldn't be the answer. In a nutshell, the game made it painfully obvious that Serie A ain't Serie B. You give your opponents one chance to make a decent run, and they will put it away. Screw up in defense and give up a bad penalty, and you are down 2-0. Bad luck certainly didn't help, as Napoli deserved at least 1-2 goals... This week's Quote of the Week goes to Annalisa, a member of our contingent: "this year we are going to suffer." A couple of pics coming soon (nothing crazy, don't get too excited...).