‘Kvaradona’ turns Atalanta crazy and brings Napoli another step closer to title
Napoli seem unintelligible in Italy on their way to their first national title since Diego Maradona set Naples ablaze more than 30 years ago. Back then, the stadium sang “Io visto Maradona” (“I have seen Maradona”) at the top of its lungs. Now the fans sing with abandon, “Io visto Kvaradona.
Because also in the 2-0 victory over Atalanta Bergamo, Georgian crowd favorite Kvitsja Kvarachchelia was again peerless.
Napoli’s 18-point lead over number two Internazionale in Serie A suggests that things can’t really go wrong this season. Yet last week the club suffered an equally unexpected and rare defeat at number three Lazio.
Those who thought Napoli would get a little nervous anyway were reassured tonight. Because against Atalanta, where only Marten de Roon provided the Dutch contribution, the frontrunner was firmly in control from the start.
Yet it took until the second half before Napoli managed to translate the superiority into the score. Kvarachchelia received the ball on the edge of the sixteen, cut left, cut right and saw the defenders just fall over.
It was then a breeze for the Georgian to shoot the ball in, but he did that too in style with a cannonball into the left cross.
After more than 70 minutes, Atalanta first came threateningly in front of the goal of Napoli goalkeeper Pierluigi Gollini, who was allowed to make his fourth appearance against his former club, of all places. First Luis Muriel slalomed through the defense and forced Gollini into a save in the near corner.
Then the goalkeeper had to use his reflexes to keep a Duvan Zapata header out of the goal.
It was only a convulsion, as the home team remained supreme. Yet there was another source of concern for Napoli coach Spalletti, as Kim Min-jae – the South Korean rock at the back – had to leave the field injured.
Whether the Korean can play in Wednesday’s Champions League quarterfinals against Eintracht Frankfurt is not clear. Napoli won the first match in Germany 2-0.
It did not matter much for the result against Atalanta, because just after the substitution his fellow center defender Amir Rrahmani headed the 2-0 against the ropes. For Atalanta it is already the fifth defeat in the last seven games.