Last season, heading into the first meeting between Roma and Napoli, we encouraged you to build a pillow fort. We even provided step-by-step instructions. Prior to the match at the Olimpico, Roma were perfect through seven. After the match, they were perfect through eight. It was Napoli's first loss and the second time they'd dropped points.
This time around, things look a bit different. Roma aren't perfect - they've lost to Juventus and were held by Sampdoria. But Napoli...well, you know the story. The good news is, at least this match isn't quite so terrifying. Unless your name is Rafa, that is.
Roma want revenge
Roma cruised to a 2-0 victory over Cesena on Wednesday, but that doesn't mean they're not still out for a little blood. Ten days ago, the giallorossi lost 7-1 to Bayern Munich. They went on to be held to a goalless draw by Sampdoria. Beating a relegation-threatened side probably doesn't help them in healing their bruised egos.
Plus, Roma have a little Napoli-specific revenge to extract as well. Last season, Roma won the first leg of the Coppa Italia 3-2, then went on to lose 3-0 in Naples. They came back a month later, and José Callejón scored the only goal of the match. Roma were already out of the top spot, but after stringing together seven games unbeaten, they must've thought they were set to challenge Juve again.
It's worth pointing out that Roma fans won't be able to cheer on their side -- at least, not from the visitors' section. It's been closed once more, and likely has something to do with the fracas back in May. RIP, Ciro.
Rafa Benítez wants to save his job
According to the ultimatum laid down by Aurelio De Laurentiis, Rafa should already be seeking another job. He needed to win the next three games, and yet Napoli could only draw with Atalanta. But unless he's been fired on the sly, Benítez is still on the bench. Nothing's been said, but a victory over Roma would most likely keep him on the bench.
Is it possible? Well, sure. Especially if Napoli play like they did against Verona. Or even if they attack the way they did at Atalanta, and Roma don't use their elbows as primary defense mechanisms. Due to the visitors' injury crisis, Daniele De Rossi is likely to start in the center of defense, which should help Napoli make it through the midfield without serious injury. We hope.
Yes, Roma are having a bit of a crisis at the back, with Davide Astori and Leandro Castan both out with injury. Kostas Manolas is a doubt as well, so that leaves Rudi Garcia with just one fit center back, in Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa.
Projected Lineups Sure To Be Wrong
Napoli: Rafael; Ghoulam, Koulibaly, Albiol, Maggio; Lopez, Jorginho; Insigne, Hamsik, Callejon; Higuain
Note to Rafa: If you want to win -- if you're not undertaking some grand plan to escape Naples -- this is the lineup you absolutely must use. If we see Walter Gargano anywhere near your teamsheet, we'll know you're intentionally throwing this match.
AS Roma: De Sanctis; Torosidis, De Rossi, Yanga-Mbiwa, Cole; Pjanic, Keita, Nainggolan; Gervinho, Totti, Iturbe
At a glance
Roma: 2nd; 7W 1D 1L; League Form: WDWLW
Napoli: 7th; 4W 3D 2L; League Form: DWDWW
TV: Premium Calcio (Italy); RAI International (USA and Canada)
Online: Sky Go Italia; beIN Sport Connect (USA and Canada) (We think)