Five hours earlier, a stream of cars from the mousetrap in the center of Naples was already heading towards the stadium while the cruise ship masses were sunbathing. Perhaps there, looking at the sea, they would have appreciated the electronic music session that star Joseph Capriati let loose in the run-up. The people in the stadium didn’t care much. They only cared about the public address system when a song about Maradona, the city’s pagan god, began to play.
Alex Meret, Nathan, Mathias Olivera (Mário Rui, 88 mins), Di Lorenzo, Leo Østigård, Lobotka (Jens Cajuste, 88 mins), Zielinski (Giacomo Raspadori, 74 mins), Franck Zambo (Giovanni Simeone, mins). 88), Victor Osimhen, Khvicha Kvaratskhelia and Politano (Elmas, min. 69)
A day before and knowing the arrival to this unique and chaotic place in Madrid, more than one was heard that he had already seen Jude Bellingham live in the old San Paolo. Like someone who wants to hang a medal on the stranger. They were referring to his national team’s duel against Italy: 1-2 for the Ross and no goal from the white five. That was in March, which reminds us again how fast football moves for some. In half a year, his name has gone from the coffee growers’ notebooks to the cobblestone streets of the capital of Campania.
In Bellingham’s accounting there is no makeup: if he takes out the knife, it is to scrape something. Of his eight goals and three assists in the nine games of the course, only the third against Girona could enter the category of expendable. The rest had victory value. He sentenced Athletic, and Almería, Celta, Getafe and Unión Berlin were directly knocked down.
This Tuesday, at the San Paolo, he left another decisive performance and, unlike other days, his display transcended goals. He created, stole, assisted, scored and, in the end, even blocked a threatening Napoli shot from the front. He softened Kepa’s chant at 1-0 with a goal and an assist before the break, and before Valverde’s final blow, he missed the 2-3 score with a point-blank header.
“What is surprising about him is that he is 20 years old and looks like he is 30 because of his character and personality. He is always focused on the game. This is rare for a player of 20. And then there is his strength and ability. Obviously, he surprises everyone a little bit,” Carlo Ancelotti admitted.
More in creation
The former Dortmund player had a hugely impactful first half in a showcase of so much luster. Because of what the statistics say (goal and assist) and, above all, because of what he left in the game. Until now, on many days this season, his greatest contribution had been with goals. Like little. But in Diego Armando Maradona his game went further. The Englishman went further into the creation zone, like a real five (his number), he dealt cards and stole them from the locals. As a all-rounderthe word he used to define himself on the day of his presentation.
“The success of the first half was his position, and that of Valverde and Rodrygo. He created difficulties for Naples, their pressure was not always effective,” the Italian coach noted about the greater weight that the Englishman had had in the kitchen of white football. In the midst of a personal surge, he stole a ball from Rudi García’s boys and gave the equalizer to Vinicius, with whom he played well for moments. And then he achieved a great goal, breaking lines against a defense that was weakening. A Maradonian goal? They asked the young man. “It’s a bit much,” he replied.
The night, however, once again showed the two souls of Madrid. The one that depends on Bellingham, solver of wrongs, and what happens from the middle of the field to the back. One way or another, leaks continue to appear with dangerous frequency for white interests. Kepa, who was turning 29, still could not be blamed for any misfortune, but in Naples, after 20 minutes, he left a trigger that raises suspicions. He caught flies in a corner and Ostigard made him pay. Then he did leave two interventions from his catalog, about a cat under sticks. “Nobody is perfect. Neither do I, I’m very handsome,” Carletto joked. “He is formidable between the sticks and suffers in the air. He’s not two meters tall [1,88]”, accepted the white coach after winning.
The second misfortune, still with the aroma of the first part of Bellingham, occurred with Nacho. This time, the VAR punished him for a misplaced handball. Ancelotti, who complained about the maximum penalty, does not finish padlocking his door. Many times, due to lack of tension at the back in the starts; this Tuesday, due to individual errors and misfortunes.
On this occasion, these failures did not ruin Bellingham’s performance. Valverde’s whip made it good. “I was a little sad because I looked and it didn’t say Valverde [en el marcador]. “An opponent made a joke to me that the goal wasn’t mine,” commented the Uruguayan, still on the grass.
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