This one is pretty straightforward: Napoli need a win. Badly. A statement win would be even better. Palermo are a beatable team. Go stomp the tar out of them.
Riding The Wave
Palermo are fresh off a big performance against Inter that saw them score early and hold out for a 1-1 draw despite sustaining heavy pressure from Walter Mazzarri's side during the second half. In fact, Palermo were a little unlucky not to win the match, as they had their own period of exceptionally heavy attacking pressure at the end of the match, including two goals that were disallowed.
Palermo are probably the best of the three promoted sides, and Maurizio Zamparini isn't afraid to use was resources he can devote to the team quite liberally. Of course, he's also never afraid to fire a manager at the drop of a hat, so there's always that to consider as well as far as club stability goes. Still, Palermo have assembled a side that's a good combination of talented youth and solid veterans, making them a very hard side to take lightly.
They have a ridiculous amount of talent up top, headlined by Paulo Dybala, Franco Vazquez, and Andrea Belotti. Dybala is quickly becoming something of a name in Italy, as the young Argentine's talent allowed Palermo to sell Abel Hernandez without worry last summer, and has been immense in all three of the club's matches so far. Vazquez has scored two of Palermo's three goals so far (Dybala has the other), and has done a yeoman's job serving as Palermo's main creator so far. Belotti has only been used as a sub so far this season, but he's done well in the role so far, including turning the momentum around in the Inter match almost single-handedly.
Just Win. Please. Pretty Please. With A Cherry On Top.
We all know the story of Napoli's season so far. Champions League collapse. Last second win at Genoa. Embarrassments against Chievo and Udinese. The comeback against Sparta.
Napoli have yet to really take comprehensive control of any match and enforce their will on it. There's various reasons for that; bizarre lineups, players out of form, systemic issues with set pieces and defensive clearances, but what it all boils down to is that we have yet to really see what this Napoli side can be, what it's supposed to be.
Now would be a good time to have that match. Palermo are a good opponent to try and put together that performance against; while they're a good side, they lack some of the structural discipline that's given Napoli fits this season. They struggled mightily their last time on the road against Hellas Verona, so taking advantage of that will be key.
On the injury front, there's not a lot of news to be had. Jorginho is still doubtful with the muscular injury that held him out against Udinese, but there's been no update as to the availability of Giandomenico Mesto, who also missed out at the weekend. Gokhan Inler was supposedly sick but was on the bench, and should be available to start this one. After sitting out via rotation, expect Marek Hamsik, Jose Callejon, and Dries Mertens to start against Palermo. Gonzalo Higuain probably should get a rest, but it feels more likely that Rafa Benitez has him sit on the road against Sassuolo this weekend.
Projected Lineups Sure To Be Wrong
Napoli (4-2-3-1): Rafael; Maggio, Henrique, Koulibaly, Ghoulam; Inler, Lopez; Callejon, Hamsik, Mertens; Higuain
Palermo (3-5-2): Sorrentino; Terzi, Andelokovic, Munoz; Pisano, Rigoni, Barreto, Bolzoni, Daprela; Vazquez, Dybala
At a glance
Palermo: 16th; 0 Wins, 2 Draws, 2 Losses; 3 Goals Scored, 4 Goals Allowed League Form: DLD
Napoli: 15th; 1 Win, 0 Draws, 2 Losses; 2 Goals Scored, 3 Goals Allowed; League Form: LLW
The match will start Wednesday at 8:45 PM CET/2:45 PM EST. Television coverage will be, well, basically non-existent. Italy will have it on SkyGO's streaming service, but there's no English-language options this time around. What few live viewing options there are for this one 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.