Napoli vs. Torino, preview: why should we worry?

Valerio Pennicino

10th placed Torino travel to Naples to take on the second-best team in Italy. This season's granata is focused on attacking football, but with a patched-together backline, will they be able to take points from Napoli?

One win in their last eight Serie A encounters. A side now confident they'll remain in the top division, and thus no longer playing for just a point. Three draws in their last four matches, and a hard-fought battle against Juventus that could've ended differently should the offside flag have gone up. Alessio Cerci. This is Torino. And it would not be wise to underestimate them.

Do you hear that, Rafa Benítez? The last time Napoli underestimated an opponent, they came away with just a point from their encounter against Sassuolo. Circumstances were similar. It was a match at the San Paolo. The game followed a 2-1 victory in the Champions League. There was a stacked schedule of midweek games and one of the two matches after the Champions League involved tricky opposition. In short, this is the sort of match that will most likely see Rafa switching up his starting XI, giving the best players time to rest before the Wednesday game at Fiorentina.

According to the papers, however, Napoli aren't likely to switch it up too much. It seems José Callejón will start on the bench, leading to the Dries Mertens - Marek Hamšík - Lorenzo Insigne matchup that we've wanted for so long (No? Just me then? Sorry). That is, unless Hamšík is dropped in favor of Goran Pandev. Just the thought of that is enough to make me want to build another pillow fort. Yes, Marek could use a break. He's been off his game and needs to find a rhythm again. But anytime Pandev starts I panic, even if he ultimately scores two goals.

As for Toro, they're without midfielder Matteo Brighi and center backs Cesare Bovo and Guillermo Rodríguez. And, apparently, Ciro Immobile, who picked up a yellow last week against Inter Milan. That's four in the league and one in the Coppa Italia, which, if I remember correctly, means five altogether for some reason. It's what Gazzetta are saying and with Torino not yet publishing the list of players called (that I could find, anyway), I choose to believe that there will be no Ciro.

Toro's makeshift backline certainly did them no favors last time out. Samir Handanovic was sent off in the 5th minute, so Mateo Kovacic came off for second-string keeper Juan Pablo Carrizo. But even down an attacker, Inter managed to score three goals. That's gotta bode well for the partenopei, right?

We can hope. With Napoli also facing injuries in defense, we have to cross fingers that Federico Fernández chooses to have a good day at center back. There's also the likelihood that Gökhan İnler sits to keep him rested for Fiorentina, with Blerim Džemaili partnering Valon Behrami instead. At least Džemaili loves scoring against Torino...

In other words, it's unlikely either of these sides is going to keep a clean sheet. But hey, the early Sunday match should be fun for once.

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