Two teams struggling in the league. Two teams doing well in Europe. Two teams looking to reverse early disappointments. Only one team will walk away from the San Paolo with smiles on their faces tomorrow. Let's just hope it's the boys in blue.
Torino have found themselves in a unique situation this year. Despite finishing outside of the European places in Serie A last season, Parma's financial woes gave Torino a second chance, a chance that they've seized with both hands. They're off to a good start, coasting through the qualification rounds of the Europa League and so far getting a draw in a tough road match against Brugge and beating Copenhagen at home.
The league has been a different story though. Torino have struggled in the early stretch of the Italian season, winning just once and losing twice in their opening five matches. The losses came against very mediocre Sampdoria and Hellas Verona sides, and the lone win came against a disappointing Cagliari. Torino just aren't dealing well with the extra match load, and it's showing on native soil.
Still, some of their players are having good individual seasons. Matteo Darmian has been stellar at right back for Torino, and Napoli loanee Omar El Kaddouri has taken a huge step forward in his development so far this season. Even Fabio Quagliarella, a former partenopei striker, has done well for himself in the early goings of the season, with four goals in ten all-competitions matches, including two of the just three that Torino have scored in the league.
Keeping The Sails Full
Napoli need to do well in this match to maintain the momentum they're building. If Napoli can get to the international break riding two confident wins in the league and another in the Europa League, it could help ease a lot of the pain from early in the season.
As such, look for Napoli to run out a fairly full-strength lineup, even though there's some tired legs in the squad. Marek Hamsik and Kalidou Koulibaly in particular will bear monitoring as neither player has been given much of a rest this season, particularly Koulibaly. Given how much time Jorginho has missed, and will continue to miss as he's doubtful for this match, with a muscular issue that's just not getting better, risking further similar injuries to key players is something to be avoided.
Torino are vulnerable to am issue that plagued Napoli at times the last couple of years: play them hard and aggressive, give them a metaphorical punch in the teeth, and they'll get frustrated and play their way out of the match. It's what Verona did to them, it's what Sampdoria did to them, and it's what Cagliari and their European opponents failed to do. Napoli don't necessarily have a lot of players who you'd see delivering said knuckle sandwich, though, and the one most likely to start this match, Walter Gargano, is just as likely to screw it up and draw a red or give up a dangerous free kick as he is to frustrate Torino. So there's that.
Projected Lineups Sure To Be Wrong
Napoli (4-2-3-1): Rafael; Maggio, Albiol, Koulibaly, Ghoulam; Inler, Gargano; Callejon, Hamsik, Insigne; Higuain
Torino (3-5-2): Padelli; Maksimovic, Glik, Moretti; Darmian, Nocerino, El Kaddouri, Vives, Molinaro; Quagliarella, Larrondo
At a glance
Torino: 12th; 1W 2D 2L; League Form: DWLLD
Napoli: 8th; 2W 1D 2L; League Form: WDLLW
The match will start Sunday at 8:45 PM CET/2:45 PM EST. Television coverage will be on Premium Calcio 2 in Italy, BT Sport Extra online streaming in the UK, and beIN Sport Connect online streaming 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.