In another of an increasingly important series of matches for Napoli, the partenopei make the journey north to Parma. Donadoni's squad will be no easy task, but hopefully the momentum from the huge win against Juventus will be enough to see them through.
Crusading To Europe
Parma have been one of the surprise teams in Serie A, and stand just three points shy of a Europa League qualification spot, which would be a massive achievement for their squad. Roberto Donadoni has done magnificent things with his squad, making adjustments to personnel and tactics that have, so far, been note-perfect. In addition to the win against Napoli earlier this season, they've taken down AC Milan twice, drawn Fiorentina twice, Inter Milan once, and beat fellow Cinderella story club Torino once.
While Donadoni and Parma fielded a 3-5-2 when last these two clubs met and had frequently done exactly that before then, that was the last time that they did so regularly. Since then, they've gone with more of a 4-3-3 look, and it's paid dividends, allowing them to score at least three goals five times, opposed to just twice before then. Keeping a midfielder deeper also seems to have helped, with seven clean sheets compared to three before the change.
Parma are on a bit of a tailspin at the moment, though, having lost three straight matches after snapping a 17 match unbeaten run. They'll also be without several key players, with Amauri and Alessandro Lucarelli missing out via suspension, plus Nicola Pozzi and Napoli loanee Walter Gargano to injury. Antonio Cassano should return to the lineup, though, and Ezequiel Schelotto looks to be rounding in to form after joining Parma on loan from Inter in January.
I have just one thing to say: win the effing match. That's it. That's the entire team talk. Win it. Win it real good.
God I'm inspirational.
Anyways, despite some hopes early in the week that Camilo Zuniga and Christian Maggio would return, Rafa Benitez did not name them to his traveling squad. On the topic of fullbacks, it might be nice to get some minutes for Giandomenico Mesto at some point. Same goes for Josip Radosevic and Duvan Zapata, so let's hope for an early blowout and a chance at some slop minutes for that trio.
With that in mind, I repeat my earlier statement: Win. The. Effing. Match.
God I'm inspirational.
Parma: Mirante; Cassani, Felipe, Paletta, Gobbi; Acquah, Marchionne, Parolo; Schelotto, Cassano, Biabiany
Napoli: Reina; Henrique, Fernandez, Albiol, Ghoulam; Inler, Jorginho; Callejon, Hamsik, Insigne; Higuain
At a glance
Parma: 6th; 12W 11D 8L; League Form LLLDW
Napoli: 3rd; 19W 7D 5L; League Form WWLWW
Last Time Out
A brutally underwhelming performance from Napoli at home in the middle of their Champions League group stage run was punctuated by a breakdown on a Parma counter that lead to Antonio Cassano's goal. It was an ugly, dire affair, and oh by the way it also saw Marek Hamsik get hurt five minutes after subbing on to the pitch, and wasn't seen again until January. Yeah. That was awesome.
The match will start Sunday at 7:45 PM CET/2:45 PM EST. Television coverage will be on Sky Calcio in Italy, BT Sport 1 in the UK, and beIN Sports 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.