Napoli have a break this week because the rest of Italy is mired in Coppa Italia qualifiers, something that the partenopei get to skip thanks to finishing in the top four in the league last season. One of those matches determined who Napoli would play once they finally get in to Coppa Italia action in January, though, and now Napoli know who will line up across them in that first match.
It was down to Udinese and Cesena, and the zebrette beat their foes 4-2 in extra time to advance to the final rounds of the Coppa. Cesena struck first and early, but Udinese got two goals by halftime to take the lead. Cesena were able to equalize in the second half, but went down a man after an hour and couldn't hold on in extra time, shipping two goals to Udinese and bowing out of the tournament.
Napoli lost to Udinese early in the season while the side were mired in the worst form they've seen this year. A then-hot Udinese were able to play Napoli to a standstill in Udine until a defensive breakdown and one-in-a-thousand strike from defender Danilo put the home side ahead and sent Napoli further in to their slump.
Now Udinese have slipped to 8th in table, with Andrea Stramaccioni's side winless in their last five league matches, and having lost four of eleven since they last faced Napoli. Still, they should be able to give Napoli a good match, especially as it's not yet clear how seriously Napoli will take the Coppa this year, given that their league standing is not as strong as they'd like.
Knowing, as they say, is half the battle, and now Napoli know who they're facing to begin their defense of their Coppa Italia title. Now what's left to see is how the tie turns out... and for that, we must wait.