After suffering a shock defeat at the San Paolo earlier this season, Napoli are headed to the Bentegodi to try and extract a measure of revenge against Chievo Verona. With Roma within reach, getting all three points is more vital than ever, especially with Lazio and Sampdoria nipping at Napoli's heels. Unlike last time, Napoli have positive momentum on their side, and Chievo have anything but positive momentum, so hopefully this matchup works out much better than the last go-round.
Stupid Flying Donkeys...
Look, nobody likes Chievo. They play dreadfully boring football, and have several really annoying players in their side, like Bostjan Cesar, Ezequiel Schelotto, Ivan Radovanovic, Perparim Hetemaj. They're not good, they have nothing to make them compelling or interesting, and they just won't go away despite a number of tries to get them relegated over the years.
Fortunately for Napoli, their goalscorer in the early-season match that Chievo won is no longer a part of their team. Maxi Lopez moved to Torino two weeks ago, though it's not like he took a huge goalscoring load with him; Gonzalo Higuain on his own has nearly outscored Chievo this season, with 12 Serie A goals to his name compared to their 14.
Chievo have been in extremely poor form this season, and they're well "deserving" of their 18th place berth in Serie A coming in to the weekend. Their defense is as stout as ever, but they've seemingly lost all ability to score goals, though Napoli's depleted defense might allow them some respite in that area if the partenopei aren't careful. Still, it feels as though Chievo are destined for relegation this season, though Cagliari, Empoli, and Atalanta will seemingly be doing their best to give them competition to go down to Serie B alongside Parma and Cesena.
Pulling Closer To The Top
The season's first match against Chievo Verona represents one of the lowest points of the season, and that's a bad taste that Napoli must erase in this match. Fortunately this time around, Napoli have a lot of good momentum in their favor and their attackers have been playing with much more confidence than they did in mid-September, which should hopefully lead to a much better performance.
I could go on and on and on about improved tactics, performances, somewhat more sane lineup choices, and blah blah blah, but in the end, only this matters: Napoli are good. Chievo suck. Yeah, Napoli's temporarily thin back line is going to be an issue, but that doesn't change the fact that the boys in blue should be able to whip Chievo up and down the pitch. If they don't, they might have more problems than just losing ground to Roma and the other teams gunning for third place.
Projected Lineups Sure To Be Wrong
Chievo Verona: Bardi; Sardo, Cesar, Gamberini, Zukanovic; Schelotto, Radovanovic, Hetemaj, Birsa; Meggiorini, Paloschi
Napoli: Rafael; Maggio, Albiol, Britos, Strinic; Gargano, Lopez; Callejon, Hamsik, Mertens; Higuain
At a glance
Chievo Verona: 18th; 4W, 6D, 10L; League Form: LLDDW
Napoli: 3rd; 10W 6D 4L; League Form: WWLWW
Last Time Out...
Napoli played flat football for most of the day in their first league match at home, and gave up a goal early in the second half en route to an embarrassing 1-0 loss at home to Chievo. Making it worse was a first-half penalty for Napoli that went unconverted thanks to perhaps the worst penalty try Gonzalo Higuain has ever taken. It wasn't pretty, but if you want to read more, then the recap is right over here.
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