Last season, Hirving Lozano and PSV went into the Champions League group stage with big ambitions. The money earned from advancing to the next round allowed the Dutch side to bring in Lozano’s old pal Erick Gutierrez, and the reigning Eredivisie champion was firing on all cylinders.Then came the draw. There was fanfare, people complained about the fanfare on Twitter and then it was time for the balls in bowls. When it was all said and done PSV ended up in a group with Barcelona, Inter and eventual runner-up Tottenham Hotspur.Lozano moved on from PSV this summer, joining Napoli in a move worth more than $40 million . After last year’s murderer’s row, it’s unlikely he will be too concerned by his new club’s group. Article continues below Editors’ Picks What is Manchester United’s ownership situation and how would Kevin Glazer’s sale of shares affect the club? Ox-rated! 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But it was beyond PSV, which didn’t win a game and fell out of the competition after two points in a brutal group for the Dutch side.Now he’s at a club where he objectively has more talent around him. The club might not be known for its back line, but the defense, anchored by former Liverpool target Kalidou Koulibaly , is far stronger than any Chucky played with in the Netherlands. Alongside him in attack, he has players like Lorenzo Insigne, Dries Mertens and Jose Callejon, with Fabian Ruiz just behind him in the midfield. While they may seem like competitors for playing time, Lozano said he’s already getting along with everyone, citing the Spanish-speakers in the locker room and Insigne and Mertens as the players he’s already become friends with. Of course, off-field adaptation never was the worry for the quiet family man in his move from the Netherlands to Serie A. This is a player who said he felt a bit unmoored in his home debut because he couldn’t find his family. Once he did he “started to enjoy” and was able to play his game.”Lozano is a humble guy. He’s really serious and smart, a very talented player who has only shown part of what he can do because he hasn’t been here long,” Napoli manager Carlo Ancelotti said in his pre-match news conference Monday.The question, really, was how Lozano would fit into Ancelotti’s system. The answer hasn’t necessarily been what we expected, but the early returns have been positive. After two seasons playing almost exclusively winger with PSV, Ancelotti has utilized Lozano in a more central role. In the second half against Juventus, a game in which Lozano scored and helped spark a furious three-goal rally that eventually fell short, he played as a second striker. In Saturday’s 2-0 victory over Sampdoria, Lozano earned his first start for the club and often played like an out-and-out forward alongside Mertens.Ancelotti’s plan of attack is often quite free flowing, with what may be a 4-2-3-1 or 4-4-2 on paper instead turning into a collection of players difficult to put into banks. But that’s what the Italian tactician wants, and Lozano fits in well.He can work between the lines to find the ball, as exhibited on the first goal against Sampdoria. Lozano drifted back from the back line, got possession and sprayed the ball out wide for an open Giovanni Di Lorenzo. The right back put in a cross that Mertens finished off for the opening goal. The play may have reminded long-time Lozano fans of a few select games in his Pachuca days. While the bulk of his minutes there also were on the wing, there were games in the Concacaf Champions League and an odd Liga MX game in which Lozano sat under the forward and helped link the rest of the team to the No. 9.His strength, however, always has been taking on defenders, forcing them to make a choice between trying to keep up with the speed demon or bringing him down with a foul. That was the choice with which he presented Sampdoria defenders for much of the first half, and that’s why despite playing only 45 minutes in his debut and 65 on Saturday, he already is Napoli’s most-fouled player.Lozano is yet to get a full 90 minutes with Napoli, playing in both games for which he’s been eligible for the club but only having arrived a few days before the Juve game and returning from international break three days before the contest with Samp.”When I got here, I arrived Thursday early in the morning and the only thing (Ancelotti) asked me is how I was feeling. After that, in the tactical chat, he told me I was going to start, which was a great thing,” Lozano said. “I was a bit tired from the trip, but I felt really good. The only thing he asked me is to play, to do what he asks and above all do what I know how to do.”With Ancelotti noting Lozano only has just arrived and keeping his playing time limited at the moment, Tuesday may not be the night for a breakout for Lozano – though he’s dangerous in debuts and might see significant minutes Tuesday after his first few performances in Italy.No matter what happens Tuesday, with the Champions League experience from last year under his belt, the new supporting cast around him and the talent and skill Ancelotti will look to polish, there is no doubt Lozano will be one of the most enjoyable players to watch in the tournament this season.
A lot of people might be wanting to knock off work early for this afternoon’s Blue Jays game.After taking two games in Arlington, the Blue Jays host the Texas Rangers in the fifth and deciding game of their American League Division Series at 4:07 pm.Marcus Stroman, who pitched seven innings in game 2, will start for the Jays, while Texas counters with Cole Hamels.It’s still not certain what role, if any, David Price will play. He says he can still pitch despite throwing 50 pitches in relief in game 4 in Texas on Monday.Manager John Gibbons had said that Price couldn’t pitch today, but he opened the door a little in his comments yesterday.Price is the only lefthander the Jays could draw on from the bullpen unless Aaron Loup returns by game time after dealing with a family emergency.Meanwhile a petition on change.org calling for Major League Baseball to allow the dome at Rogers Centre to be open this afternoon has now passed 20,000 signatures.Fans point out that there’s neither a high risk of rain, nor an expectation of the temperature being less than the minimum 10 degrees specified in the operating guidelines.But a Rogers official tweeted last night that it’s still going to be too cold to risk the aging roof mechanism seizing up, even if the league were to give the okay.Fans are concerned because the Jays had a losing record with the dome closed in the regular season, while they won 38 times and only lost 14 when it was open.