The new year is here, and Serie A is finally climbing out of its winter break. Napoli are getting ready for their first match since the calendar turned, and it's time to head to Cesena to take on one of this season's relegation battlers. Can Napoli keep up the momentum from their Supercoppa win and avoid their traditional slump against low-table sides?
Praying For Relevance
Cesena haven't won a single match since beating Parma in the first matchday of the season. Let that sink in for a moment. What's worse? They've scored less than a goal per match with 13 on the season, while allowing nearly two goals per game with 30 surrendered so far in the league campaign.
It's little wonder that the Seahorses find themselves in 19th place, well adrift of safety, and breaking in a new manager. Pierpaolo Bisoli was shown the door in December after more than two years in charge, and now the task finding some way to keep Cesena in Serie A falls to Domenico Di Carlo. Of course, Di Carlo was last seen leading Livorno straight down to relegation last season, and nearly got Chievo relegated in his last job before that, so maybe he's not the best man for the job.
Di Carlo would find that challenging either way, since Cesena simply haven't been very good this season. Their best player on the season has probably been goalkeeper Nicola Leali, on loan from Juventus, but the defense in front of him has been so putrid he's still given up a ton of goals. Their leading scorer, Gregoire Defrel, has scored just four goals this season and is sitting this one out with a yellow card suspension. No one else has scored more than twice this season for Cesena, so who could find a breakthrough for them in this match is a mystery.
A Fresh Start With New Faces
Despite all the disappointment of the first half of the season, Napoli closed it out with a massive win over Juventus in the Supercoppa Italiana. That success could and should serve as a springboard to much greater success in thesecond half and a possible eventual entry in to the Scudetto conversation, but first and foremost, they need to beat Cesena. Preferably to a pulp.
Except for the usual suspects (Insigne, Michu, and Zuniga), the whole squad is ready and raring to go. Gonzalo Higuain will be looking to build on the success he found in the Supercoppa, Jose Callejon and Jorginho will be looking to overturn their recent poor form, and the rest of the squad will want to kick ass and take names. Napoli can make a major statement of intent with an authoritative win in this match, and they're more than capable of doing just that. Get it done, Napoli.
Projected Lineups Sure To Be Wrong
Cesena: Leali; Volta, Capelli, Lucchini; Giorgi, Cascione, De Feudis, Mazzotta; Ze Eduardo; Djuric, Almeida
Napoli: Rafael; Maggio, Albiol, Koulibaly, Ghoulam; Lopez, Jorginho; Callejon, Hamsik, Mertens; Higuain
At a glance
Cesena: 19th; 1W, 6D, 9L; League Form: DLLLD
Napoli: 3rd; 7W 6D 3L; League Form: WLDDD
TV: RAI International, Premium Calcio 1 (Italy), ESPN UK (U.K.)
Online: beIn Sports Connect (U.S.), Sky GO Italia (Italy)
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