Kvicha Kvaratskhelia wasted an extraordinary opportunity when clear on goal, then Giovanni Di Lorenzo was denied at point-blank range by Wojciech Szczesny, but Federico Gatti nodded in Andrea Cambiaso’s cross to give Juve all three points.
Victor Osimhen also had the ball in the back of the net, but was clearly offside.
“Anyone who knows football realises there are moments. The lads played a great game, I think they dominated the match, forced Juventus to defend in their own area for almost the entire second half,” Mazzarri told DAZN.
“Our only fault was not covering that cross and we lost the man in the box. Napoli tried everything, these things happen.
“I am convinced that if we play like this, we will have a run of positive results and really climb the table.”
“Naturally, I just arrived, so I cannot talk about what happened before. However, if they called me in, it means there were already a few problems here.
“I have seen a team that always played good football, better than the opposition, but we don’t seem to be able to score goals. If we do not score that Kvara chance, it is a clear sign we are in a negative period. Bad luck happens too.
“I believe if we continue like this, with important players rediscovering full fitness and sharpness, we will certainly get results.
“We currently lack that determination that can be the difference in a very balanced game like this. Juventus are great counter-attack specialists, but we allowed them very little in that way. Some elements need to improve, including the fitness levels of players coming off injuries.”
Confidence is low going into the crucial Champions League tie with Braga, as they need to avoid defeat in order to guarantee passage to the knockouts.
“If we can do well against Braga, get through to the Round of 16 in the Champions League and recover our left-backs, then we can have a good season from then on.”
That was a huge miss from Kvaratskhelia and it seemed to affect his confidence throughout the match, but he has overall struggled this season after being such a revelation in his debut campaign.
“When a team is not accustomed to success wins the league, there will be some blowback the next season. The other teams study you carefully, they work out how to limit your strengths, double up the marking on certain players and don’t give you the spaces you had before,” explains Mazzarri.
“However, let us not forget we do not have any left-backs who can now push and create those spaces for him. When Zanoli came on, who is not a left-back and had to adapt, you could immediately see Kvaratskhelia did better.”
This was the second consecutive start for Osimhen after a long injury lay-off, but he seems a long way off his Capocannoniere best.
“Champions inspire the others, but they also need to find full fitness. You could tell he was being man-marked even when the ball was nowhere near him. When he is in good shape, he will make the difference, but then we lose him with the Africa Cup of Nations and others have to fill in.”
Napoli are 17 points worse off than at this stage last season, but Mazzarri shrugs off suggestions the Scudetto was ever still a target when he replaced Garcia.
“When a coach arrives at a club that won last season, it means there are problems. This team has rediscovered some balance, a style of playing, I think we can get an incredible run of results. We absolutely did not deserve to lose today and it’s about time the wheel turns in our favour.”