Napoli did not impress last time out. Sure, they managed to pull off a last minute win over Genoa -- a very happy birthday to Jonathan de Guzmán, by the way! -- but it looked, for no short amount of time, that it might be the hosts that would come away with all three points.
So Sunday is the time for Napoli to really start their season. It's the first game at the San Paolo, and with increasing tension from the Napoli faithful, it becomes doubly important to not drop points.
Chievo are tricky buggers
The Flying Donkeys shouldn't be a tough opponent. They regularly finish toward the bottom of the table, their players don't inspire fear and they're quite predictable. And boring. Yet they somehow manage to get under Napoli's skin. The last time they came to town, it took a late goal from Raúl Albiol to rescue a point. Before that, at Chievo, we saw a brilliant comeback from Napoli to ensure the win.
That said, Chievo looked horrible against Juventus last weekend. That's not evident in the scoreline, a 1-0 victory created by Cristiano Biraghi's own goal, but they had just seven shots and looked absolutely stumped for ideas. For some reason, Eugenio Corini doesn't want to put his trust in Alberto Paloschi, despite the fact he should be on his way to being top choice. Fortunately for Napoli, it sounds like Ezequiel Schelotto won't be available to start -- he looked surprisingly lively against the Old Lady. Seems it's going to be Riccardo Meggiorini in for him, behind Maxi López.
Napoli already need another win
So this is how the season is going to have to be. Napoli proving themselves, again and again, as they try to show they're legitimate contenders for the scudetto. Rafa Benítez proving himself, again and again, as he attempts to demonstrate that he's still deserving of a job. All this, and Napoli have only won their first game.
No matter how weak Chievo may have looked against Juve, certain Napoli players are going to still need to step up to ensure the Flying Donkeys leave without any points. Gokhan Inler needs to shake off his rustiness. Lorenzo Insigne must block out the disapproving jeers of the home fans (or they'll never stop). Marek Hamšík, our beloved captain, still needs to make up for last season, or risk finding himself dropped for one of the newcomers. And Gonzalo Higuaín, well, he's got to realize that he's not the only player out there wearing blue.
Projected Lineups Sure To Be Wrong
Napoli (4-2-3-1): Rafael; Christian Maggio, Raúl Albiol, Kalidou Koulibaly, Camilo Zúñiga; Gokhan Inler, Jorginho; José Callejón, Marek Hamšík, Lorenzo Insigne; Gonzalo Higuaín
Chievo (4-3-2-1): Francesco Bardi; Nicolas Frey, Dario Dainelli, Boštjan Cesar, Cristiano Biraghi; Mariano Izco, Ivan Radovanović, Perparim Hetemaj; Valter Birsa, Riccardo Meggiorini; Maxi López
At a glance
Chievo: 16th, 0W 0D 1L
Napoli: 4th, 1W 0D 0L
US: RAI International, beIN Sports Connect
Italy: Sky Go
Yeah...when Inter are on at the same time, Napoli don't have a shot at being on real tv.