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Napoli vs. Parma, preview: Both sides looking a bit of a mess

Serie A's bottom side visits Naples on Thursday, but both teams are in desperate need of a win.

Marco Luzzani/Getty Images

It should be simple enough for Napoli -- a home match against Serie A's bottom side. Yet it's likely that most partenopei fans are hoping to fast-forward through the Parma game, pray that the side doesn't embarrass themselves in the Supercoppa ala China, and reach the short winter break. No, things have not gone well for Napoli in recent weeks.

NAPOLI vs. Parma:Thursday, December 18 9 p.m. CET, 3 p.m.Time ET Stadio San PaoloNaples
Poor, Pitiful Parma

Parma fans probably don't much appreciate us complaining about our sad season. Two wins from 15 games. 16 goals scored, yet four of those came during one match -- a loss, at that. To top it all off, they've also had a point deducted from their total, leaving them with just six points. The team that finished 6th last season is now 20th, seven huge points from safety.

But if we extend compassion to the crociati, they will find a way to win for the first time in living memory. Roberto Donadoni obviously still seeks revenge against Napoli. The former manager has led his current side to victory twice in a row now, both times courtesy of a lone goal. Donadoni no doubt believes this is the perfect time to make it three from three.

Napoli need to snap out of it

This is a match that Napoli should win. Then again, Napoli should've beaten Empoli. And Cagliari. And Inter.

This is also a match that Napoli must win. Sure, the Supercoppa is a trophy and Rafa Benítez loves a good trophy, but if Napoli go into the brief winter break after a loss to Juventus, morale won't be too damaged (unless Rafa pulls a Walter, of course). Dwelling on a loss to the last-placed side for two weeks? That sure doesn't sound like fun.

So forget the resting of players ahead of the big fancy moneymaker in Doha. Napoli should field their best side -- without the suspended Raúl Albiol -- and, if by chance they manage a decent lead, then let some players rest for a bit. They all look absolutely worn down.

Either that or cast aside the league and play a bunch of second-stringers against Parma. But imagine the terror that would then go into watching Europa League games.

Projected Lineups Sure To Be Wrong

Parma (3-5-2) Antonio Mirante; Andrea Costa, Alessandro Lucarelli, Fabiano Santacroce; Massimo Gobbi, Afriyie Acquah, Francesco Lodi, José Mauri, Andrea Rispoli; Raffaele Palladino, Antonio Cassano

Napoli (4-2-3-1): Rafael; Faouzi Ghoulam, Henrique Buss, Kalidou Koulibaly, Christian Maggio; Gokhan Inler, Walter Gargano; Dries Mertens, Marek Hamšík, José Callejón; Gonzalo Higuaín

This is what Gazetta has. Gazetta is often a bit insane, but I can see Rafa wanting to rotate, and he doesn't have a lot of give up top, particularly as Jonathan de Guzmán started against Milan. We wouldn't mind seeing David López paired with Inler, though.

At a glance

Parma: 20th; 2W 1D 12L; League Form: DLLLL

Napoli: 7th; 6W 6D 3L; League Form: LDDDW

Watch It

TV: BeIN Sports (USA and Canada); BT Sport 1 (UK); Premium Calcio (Italy)

Online: BeIN Sports Connect (USA and Canada); Sky Go Italia, Premium Play (Italy)

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, and we'll have updates of the most important events on our Facebook page, which you should definitely like.