The winter break is over, the players are back in training, and another match is in sight. Sampdoria is coming to down, and with them a chance to make up three vital points on Roma, who self-destructed their way in to getting beat down by Juventus this evening.
Samp currently lie in 14th place, and are a very vulnerable four points clear of the relegation zone. Despite their shaky standing in the league, Sampdoria are unbeaten in their last five, including wins against Catania and Chievo, as well as a draw away at Inter. This undefeated run coincides with the appointment of Sinisa Mihajlovic as manager after Delio Rossi was fired after overseeing just two wins in twelve.
Mihajlovic favors a 4-2-3-1 not unlike that of Rafa Benitez, though so far he's preferred to rely more on the counter rather than building up play. It's at least a style more likely to score goals than the defensively-aligned 3-5-2 that Rossi favored, and Samp have yet to be shut out under the Serbian coach. He's still trying to find his most effective lineup, though it's certain that the Brazilian Eder has flourished of late, scoring three goals in four matches to give him seven on the season and take the club lead in scoring.
Young Pedro Obiang has been a near-constant in Sampdoria's lineup this season, and he's especially flourished of late when fielded in a pivot with Angelo Palombo. With the veteran Italian taking the bulk of the defensive responsibilities, Obiang has been freed to roam box-to-box, and he's shone in that role.
For Napoli, the hosts are still without Marek Hamsik and Juan Camilo Zuniga, and Pepe Reina remains out with the injury he sustained just before halftime against Cagliari. Valon Behrami and Paolo Cannavaro are apparently also out with training injuries, though the Swiss midfielder is obviously the bigger miss.
As usual, a potential lineup:
Maggio Fernandez Albiol Reveillere
Callejon Pandev Insigne
All that I can really say about this lineup is: please, hurry back Marek and Zuniga.
As mentioned above, this is a vital match for Napoli, as the beating that Roma took at the hands of Juve give Napoli a chance to close the gap on second place. Against low-table sides like Sampdoria, Napoli has to make sure to get all three points as often as possible, especially when results elsewhere grant them the opportunity to gain ground. Please don't screw it up, guys.
The match will start Monday at 12:30 PM CET/6:30 AM EST. Television coverage will be on BT Sport 1 in the UK, Sky Calcio 1 in Italy, and beIn Sports Play 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.