Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium in Doha, Qatar was the setting for this year's Supercoppa, a rematch of the 2012 meeting in Beijing between Serie A champions Juventus and Coppa Italia winners Napoli. This edition was rescheduled from August due to Napoli's Champions League playoff, not that it did the Partenopei any good, with Rafa Benítez' side collapsing in the final half-hour in Bilbao and slumping into the Europa League group stage.
Juventus' recent form has continued in the vein that made the Old Lady champions for the last three years, with changes in the squad, the coaching staff, and the playing formation seemingly moving the team from strength to strength. Qualified for the knockout stages in the Champions League and now enjoying a three-point lead atop the Serie A standings, Juventus came to Doha hoping to add another piece of silverware to the cabinet.
Napoli have struggled for consistency this season, with the same team capable of stunning six-goal performances and stodgy 2-0 losses to the likes of Milan. The Champions League exit was particularly hard-felt for people like Rafa Benítez and Gonzalo Higuaín, who have forged their identities in the competition, aside from the blow to the club's prestige and balance sheet. Even for all their problems Napoli can still produce a fantastic performance on a night, as demonstrated by a 2-0 win over Roma earlier this season and a 2-0 over Juventus in the sides' last meeting in March. And it was this big-game Napoli that showed up in Doha, with Gonzalo Higuaín twice equalizing after Carlos Tévez scored for the Old Lady, before the Partenopei took the cup on penalties.
A slightly surprising Juventus lineup saw Fernando Llorente once again getting the nod up top, with Roberto Pereyra on the bench as Andrea Pirlo returned to the base of midfield. Napoli started with the midfield pairing of David López and Walter Gargano, with Jonathan De Guzmán on the left and Dries Mertens on the bench.
Juventus started the game very strongly, but after the first goal sat back, frequently in two lines of four, leaving Napoli lots of possession. It seemed to take a Napoli goal to bring Juventus out of their shell, and the Southerners responded when they had to, forcing the game to penalty kicks. It is always frustrating to lose a title when you've held the lead twice, and even more so when neither Napoli goal came from any particular bit of class. But those are the breaks, and for the first time in three years Juventus failed to win the Supercoppa Italiana.
The match started with a few hopeful attempts by Napoli to find Higuaín in transition, but very quickly it was 1-0 to Juventus. A long clearance by Bonucci was met by a ridiculous David López back-header, and Napoli center backs Kalidou Koulibaly and Raúl Albiol crashed into each other trying to clear, leaving Tévez through on goal where, unlike compatriot Higuaín in the World Cup final, he made no mistake. Soon after José Callejón volleyed over from a nice Faouzi Ghoulam cross, but Juventus made the chance difficult and was soon down at the other end.
Tévez was extremely dangerous in the space between the Napoli midfield and defense, with Stephan Lichtsteiner and Claudio Marchisio generally threatening down Napoli's left flank. A 10th minute foul on the Swiss fullback led to a dangerous free kick, but Marchisio's shot off the pull-back was closed down.
Juventus' high press was usually successful in the early going, with Gioigio Chiellini controlling Higuaín, but the Argentine striker managed to latch onto one long ball to create a decent chance for Napoli with Callejón and De Guzmán teeing up Marek Hamšik for a shot over the bar. Pirlo nearly connected with Marchisio with a trademark ball over the top, but the pass went long for a goal kick and Napoli finally got some possession around the 15 minute mark.
The possession led to a decent chance out of almost nothing, as Giorgio Chiellini was caught out by a Christian Maggio long ball in to Marek Hamšik, with Chiellini's poor header allowing the Slovakian to get a shot off, deflected onto the post with Buffon stranded. Napoli continued their pressure with a few crosses that did not cause too many problems, but now it was Juventus having trouble getting out of their own half.
When Juventus did control the ball they created chances with relative ease, especially through Andrea Pirlo. A chipped pass in the 23rd minute was perfect for a Fernando Llorente knock-down, but Tévez' shot was central. The big Basque had no trouble using his body to shield off the similarly massive Koulibaly, and soon after teed up Tévez for another shot, this time towards the bottom corner but well saved by Rafael.
Marek Hamšik had another go from outside the area, this time set up by Gargano, but this time after skipping past Marchisio the Napoli captain shot wide. Stephan Lichtsteiner went off for treatment after tweaking his thigh, but the magic spray did the trick and he was soon back and running the flank.
On 31' Pirlo found Lichtsteiner once again surging down the right, and the full-backs cross was only cleared as far as the Italian midfielder, whose instinctive volley was simple for Rafael. Napoli won a free kick in a dangerous position from a back-tracking Tévez, but De Guzmán's delivery just evaded Koulibaly at the back post. A nice turn and layoff from Hamšik got Higuaín some space running towards the box, but the Argentine fluffed his lines terribly.
Never one to let his head drop, Higuaín had another turn and shot from the edge of the box just after, but sent this one high and wide. Patrice Evra was on the receiving end of some crunching tackles from Koulibaly and Callejón, but the referee saw nothing wrong. Lichtsteiner got into the box following a quick combination with Vidal but the angle was poor and his shot easily dealt with.
A weak header from Vidal nearly set Napoli off on the counter, but Callejón was flagged marginally offside. It was a very tight call, and the Spaniard would have been through on goal. Evra cut a cross back for Tévez' shot, which the referee generously decided was deflected over.
Gianluigi Buffon had his first real work in the 42nd minute, when Faouzi Ghoulam's scuffed effort fell to Higuaín who forced a diving save out of the Juventus goalkeeper. Pirlo conceded a dangerous free kick in trying to clear his lines, but Ghoulam's effort was straight into the wall. Gonzalo Higuaín earned the first yellow of the night for a rash challenge on Tévez in midfield, and the sides went to the break with Juventus 1-0 to the good.
The second half started with patient possession from both sides, with neither too determined to get the ball forward. A sloppy backheel from Marchisio allowed De Guzmán some space to run into, but Arturo Vidal and Leonardo Bonucci covered well. Christian Maggio conceded a dangerous free kick going through the back of Paul Pogba, but Pirlo's effort was into the wall, before a surprisingly perfect corner delivery evaded everyone in the box.
A fantastic chance for Callejón went begging on 54'. Pirlo lost the ball in midfield to David López, who quickly cut out Vidal with a pass forward to Hamšik. Higuaín was also involved before the captain played an excellent ball through the Juventus backline, but the wide forward uncharacteristically pulled his shot wide. Napoli continued to work the ball around and look for openings, especially through Faouzi Ghoulam.
López found some space outside the box and shot over following a Hamšik layoff, while Juventus was content to pack men behind the ball. On 60 minutes Higuaín nearly grabbed a fantastic equalizer when Vidal lost a challenge to López. Hamšik played a ball over the top for the striker to run onto but his first-time chip came back off the post. De Guzmán had a chance when the ball came back in, but the Juventus defense closed him down well.
Juventus finally created something through Patrice Evra and Paul Pogba down the left, but Evra's cross pinballed off the Napoli defense and goalkeeper before going out for a corner. Another good corner from Pirlo found Llorente, but he could not get good contact on the header.
Napoli were quickly on the front foot again, with Paul Pogba forced into a good defensive header by a Ghoulam cross. The French midfielder conceded a cheap free kick soon after, putting a hand on Christian Maggio, but Buffon caught the resulting header easily. Pirlo came off for Roberto Pereyra on 66', with the shape of the game seemingly favoring the energy and transition game of the Argentine. Ghoulam continued to put in crosses, and soon after the change Napoli got the equalizing goal.
An unneccessary backheel from Vidal gave the ball to Ghoulam in midfield, who quickly played forward to De Guzmán. The ex-Swansea player got past Pereyra easily and Bonucci was slow to cover, leaving Chiellini isolated with Higuaín. The Italian defender got caught under the ball and Higuaín converted the free header.
Napoli continued to attack, putting crosses in that were dealt with by the set defense and Buffon. It was not long until Juventus had a chance of their own, with Llorente once again knocking the ball down for Tévez, whose bobbling shot did not cause any problems for Rafael. Llorente had a headed chance on 75' from a Lichtsteiner cross, but his powerful effort went wide of the post.
Callejón saw yellow for an aerial clash with Evra, as Juventus were spurred forward by the Napoli goal. Rafa Benítez changed Marek Hamšik for Dries Mertens, while Juventus brought Simone Padoin on for Stephan Lichtsteiner .
Pogba's powerful shot was closed down, as Juventus looked the more likely side to score in the closing minutes of normal time. Fouls in attack kept Higuaín and Pereyra from getting through, while Chiellini had to be attentive to block Callejón's cutback. A Juventus counter ended with Vidal firing well wide after Tévez switched play. Napoli continued to threaten on the counter, but lacked the sharpness to create shooting chances.
In the 90th minute Pogba, Vidal, and Pereyra combined to drive the ball into the Napoli box, where Llorente found Tévez, but the striker's shot was off-balance and trundled wide. Llorente should perhaps have looked for his own shot on 92' when Tévez dummied Vidal's pass, but the striker opted to play in Tévez and Koulibaly got back to cut the pass out. Llorente had another chance for a header, but he tried to flick the ball on for Pogba who could not connect. There was a late penalty appeal for De Guzmán obstructing Padoin, but the referee had none of it and sent the game to extra time.
Napoli brought Jorginho on for David López at the break. Tévez fired in an early shot after creating space on the edge of the box, but once again it went high. Juventus started extra time much like they had started the game, with possession and pressure keeping Napoli pinned deep in their own half. Tévez and Pogba combined to create a shooting opportunity for Pereyra, but the shot was once again comfortable for the Napoli goalkeeper.
A Juventus counter got Pereyra in behind Koulibaly, where he was able to cross for Pogba, but the header was difficult and lacked power. Llorente fired in a shot on 98' following good work from Tévez, but the left-footed effort went wide. Napoli continued to try long balls into the strikers, but Juventus' defense handled them well.
Evra nutmegged his marker and found Pogba in space, but the midfielder was only able to curl the ball into Rafael's arms. The goal almost came 11 minutes into extra time when Pereyra played Evra in on the byline, but Vidal's shot on the pullback was cleared off the line by Koulibaly. Napoli got a bit more of the ball as the first half of extra time came to an end, but were not able to create much.
Álvaro Morata came on for Llorente with 15 minutes of extra time to play, and the Spaniard was quickly involved, latching onto a long ball behind Napoli's defense. Eventually the ball made it to Pogba on the left corner of the box, where the Frenchman showed his incredible physical and technical quality to dribble and bull past two defenders and lay off for Tévez, who dummied to create space and wrong-footed Rafael with a classy finish, leaving Napoli just 13 minutes to find another equalizer.
The Juventus goalscorer saw yellow soon after, for a sloppy challenge on Albiol as Napoli began building the play. Higuaín had a great chance with ten minutes to play after Pogba got his header wrong and the striker split the center backs, but Buffon bailed his defense out with a fantastic right-handed save. Another mistake in the Juventus defense nearly let Callejón in, but Buffon got there first to spare Bonucci's blushes.
With five minutes to go Higuaín could have drawn a penalty when Chiellini appeared to make contact as he turned to shoot, but the referee waved play on. Napoli continued to press, sending crosses into the box, and on 118' Higuaín found another equalizer. Gargano put in a hopeful cross from the right as Mertens' run off the left flank created havoc in the Juventus defense, and the ball fell to Higuaín who was able to sweep home. With only a couple of minutes to go, and the scores level, both sides were happy enough to see the Supercoppa decided on penalties.
Maggio won the toss, and elected to shoot first. Jorginho stepped up and... Saved! Buffon flung himself to his right, making a comfortable save.
Tévez was up next, hoping to put Juventus in the lead. Another miss! Tévez sent the keeper the wrong way, but his low shot came back off the post.
Ghoulam was next in line, and converted, a left-footed strike high into the net on his natural side.
Vidal was up next, and did much the same, sending Rafael the wrong way and finding the side netting.
Next came Albiol, who finished similarly-- send the keeper, sweep it home.
Pogba took the third for Juventus, powering it home to his natural side while Rafael dived the wrong way. 2-2 after three kicks.
Inler was next up, and a powerful finish with Buffon diving the wrong way put Napoli ahead.
Marchisio shot fourth, with all of the pressure, and fired an excellent penalty with the outside of his foot, high into the net.
Higuaín came next, and a powerful finish with Buffon sprawling kept Juventus needing to score to stay in it.
Morata now, in sudden death-- and once again the keeper dives the wrong way as the young striker finishes powerfully.
Gargano took the sixth for Napoli, opening up his foot late to send Buffon the wrong way.
Now Bonucci for the Old Lady, and a powerful strike saw Rafael once again headed the wrong way. 5-5 after 6.
Mertens up next for Napoli, and it's saved! Buffon guesses right this time, and Mertens' poor penalty is well-saved.
Chiellini to win it... Saved! A poor penalty from the center half, weak and central, with Rafael guessing the right way.
Now on to Callejón. Saved! Again Buffon guesses right and gets down well, this time needing a firm hand to stop a fairly powerful, low strike.
Pereyra to win it... Missed! The Argentine goes for the top corner and puts it over.
Koulibaly now, sends Buffon the wrong way and just about scores, in off the post.
Padoin needs to score... and it's saved! The substitute goes to his natural side and Rafael guesses right, saving with his top hand to give Napoli the Supercoppa.
Buffon: 7.5 Made two excellent saves on Higuaín, and did his part in the shootout, saving three penalties. Quick off his line when he had to be, nothing he could do on the goals.
Lichtsteiner: 6 Had some joy down the right in tandem with Marchisio and whichever striker dropped to that side, but was unable to make a telling contribution to the scoreline. Took a few knocks and removed in the second half for Padoin.
Bonucci: 5 Generally won the aerial battles, and played a few good long passes, but could have done more on both goals, to cut off De Guzmán on the first and to win the header on the second.
Chiellini: 5 Another who had a broadly decent game but made errors in critical moments. Caught too far from Higuaín on the first Napoli goal and missed what could have been the winning penalty.
Evra: 6 Didn't get down the flank and deliver crosses to the same degree as in recent games, but generally controlled his flank and combined well with Pogba, playing a role in the buildup to Tévez' second.
Marchisio: 5.5 Often stationed on the right of midfield, Marchisio didn't have the penalty box impact of some games but put in the defensive work and contributed to Juventus' spells of pressure.
Pirlo: 5.5 Hit a few trademark passes over the top, and contributed some dangerous corner deliveries, but nothing came of them. Not a bad game, but not overly involved and exposed at times as Napoli countered at pace.
Pogba: 6 Another who did not have his best game, Pogba struggled to make an impact offensively until one brilliant piece of skill and strength created the assist for Tévez' second. Did all right defensively for the most part, but could have done more to stop Gargano crossing for Napoli's second.
Vidal: 5.5 A typical Vidal performance from this season, he put in the work defensively but did not contribute much on the other end and gave the ball away cheaply for Napoli's first.
Llorente: 5.5 Did very well as a focal point in attack, knocking down and holding up long balls for Tévez and other runners around him, but was not aggressive in looking for his own shot and could have done better when he did elect to shoot.
Tévez: 6.5 The scorer of both Juventus goals, Carlos Tévez continued his fine run of form. Always dangerous with a bit of space, and showed excellent technique to control and finish for both strikes.
Pereyra: 5 Perhaps unlucky to start this one on the bench, Pereyra was brought on for Pirlo and almost immediately played his part in conceding Napoli's first. Had a few good dribbles, and missed a presentable chance. Also missed what could have been the winning penalty.
Padoin: 4.5 Brought on for Lichtsteiner, the utility-man should have done much better when Gargano's cross came in for Napoli's second. Also missed the deciding penalty.
Morata: 5.5 With only a few minutes to make an impact Morata did what was asked of him, running behind the Napoli defense and looking up for teammates.
Allegri: 5.5 Dropped Pereyra for what seems on paper like the first-choice midfield, when perhaps he would have been better served with the Argentine on from the start. Slow to bring Morata on, and still seems unsure of his best XI.