After Napoli continued their pummeling ways in the Europa League on Thursday, it's off to Verona to tangle with Chievo Verona, the Flying Donkeys that have too often tortured Napoli fans in recent years. It sure would be nice to see Napoli keep their hot form going and just paste Chievo, now wouldn't it? It'd be like just like pulling out a sliver that's been dug in deep -- that feeling of relief so good it's almost blissful.
Keep rollin' rollin' rollin', what?
Napoli are in a form that has people talking about the scudetto coming back to Naples, and it's easy to see why. Such talk is extraordinarily premature -- we're not even a quarter of the way through the season yet -- but with Napoli having won five straight across all competitions, four of five in the league, and having just taken down the top team in the table last weekend, you can certainly understand where that talk is coming from.
Many are looking at Napoli's upcoming, supposedly soft stretch of the schedule and predicting them to continue their blitz of the league, running to the top and potentially getting well clear of everyone else. Napoli fans, however, are almost more worried about this run of their schedule than they were about their last month of matches -- Napoli have so often struggled against so-called "provincial" sides that no one is confident that they can keep this momentum up.
That's why this match is so important. Not only does it give Napoli a chance to pull closer to the top of the table -- almost a shocking thought considering where Napoli were a month ago -- it will let them start to prove that they're not that same Napoli team any more. If they give Chievo the shellacking that they so deserve and keep rolling through the "little" teams, we'll know that they're for real. If not... well, let's not go there.
Effing Flying Donkeys
Chievo have been a thorn in Napoli's side for way too long. They're always a frustrating opponent, but over the last two seasons and especially last year, seeing them come up on the schedule sparked rage and frustration from Napoli fans before the two teams even played. It's not even like they've been very good -- they've barely ducked relegation the last couple of years, but have still been a source of endless frustration for Napoli.
This year, though, they've actually been pretty decent! They've fallen off a bit after starting their season with two wins and a draw -- and spending a week in first place in the league! -- but they've still been a tough opponent. Their defense hasn't looked quite as solid as their "Italian Stoke" days, but they're a greater threat in attack now, meaning Napoli won't be able to just blitz them and hope for the best.
Projected Lineups Sure To Be Wrong
Chievo Verona: Bizzarri; Frey, Cesar, Gamberini, Gobbi; Hetemaj, Rigoni, Birsa; Castro; Meggiorini, Paloschi
Napoli: Reina; Hysaj, Albiol, Koulibaly, Ghoulam; Allan, Jorginho, Hamsik; Callejon, Higuain, Insigne
At A Glance
Chievo Verona: 9th; 3W 3D 2L; League Form: LDDWL
Napoli: 4th; 4W 3D 1L; League Form: WWWDW
TV: Sky Calcio 1, Sky Sport 1 HD Italia (Italy), BT Sport 1 (U.K.), RAI International
Online: beIN Sports Connect (U.S.), Sky Go Italia (Italy)
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, and we'll have updates of the most important events on our Facebook page, which you should definitely like.