Two weeks after downing Atalanta to advance to the Coppa Italia quarterfinals, Napoli are set to face Lazio for a place in the semis. With a trophy almost in sight, the players will almost certainly be up for the occasion, but for the fans a midweek fixture on the heels of a disappointing draw and with Atalanta coming up on Sunday, mustering up the emotion to really get in to this one could be a little difficult.
The Eager Eagles
Lazio are still breaking in a new manager, as Edorado Reja has been on the job less than a month after the drama that surrounded the firing of former boss Vladimir Petkovic. Reja is undefeated in five matches, with wins against Inter and away to Udinese sandwiched around a boring 0-0 draw at Bologna, as well as a 2-1 victory over Parma in the last round of the Coppa. His last match has been hailed as a moral victory, drawing Juve 1-1 at home, but when you let a ten-man side outplay you and equalize late, there shouldn't be much of a victorious feel to it no matter what shirt they're wearing. That result also saw Lazio sag bag to the same 10th-place standing they were in when Reja took over.
Reja's been a bit of a tough nut to crack as far as guessing his tactics, but he's generally been a proponent of 3-5-2 variants that favor two deep defensive midfielders and a side that looks to hit on the counter. Think of it as a blander version of Mazzarri-ball. He has gone with four man back lines a couple of times so far with Lazio, but they've been very defensively shaped when he has and they've struggled to be terribly creative in any formation. Still, the return of Miroslav Klose to health should give them a bit of a boost in attacking areas,
The Parting Partenopei
We all know the story by now: leaky defense, horrid form against minnows, desperate for a boost in form. There's not much else to say, except to expect less rotation than otherwise might be ideal, as Rafa will be well aware that Lazio will be pushing hard for this one.
Napoli (4-2-3-1): Rafael; Armero, Albiol, Fernandez, Maggio; Jorginho, Inler; Insigne, Hamsik, Callejon; Higuain
Lazio (3-4-1-2): Berisha; Ciani, Novaretti, Cana; Radu, Ledesma, Gonzalez, Cavanda; Hernanes; Klose, Floccari
How They Got Here
Napoli: 3-1 v. Atalanta (1/15/14)
Lazio: 2-1 v. Parma (1/14/14)
The match will start Wednesday at 8:45 PM CET/2:45 PM EST. Television coverage will be on RAI Uno in Italy, Sky Sports 3 HD in the UK, and beIn Sports in America. Other live viewing options can be found here, and as always, we'll have a match thread live here for discussion of the game at hand. You can also follow along with us live on Twitter.