Napoli have another match just days after their win in Verona, this time at home against Palermo. And you know what? Despite Napoli's form, there's a really bad feeling building around this one. It has all the makings of a trap game, and that's exactly what this club does not need right now.
Just keep the good times going
Sunday's win wasn't as decisive or as emphatic as we may have hoped, but it got the job done. Now with the San Paolo backing them, though, Napoli can and should put on a far more emphatic performance -- though they once again face a periodic bogey team in Palermo.
Still, based on form, Napoli are the runaway favorites. Four straight league wins will do that. Add the form of Gonzalo Higuain, Allan, Kalidou Koulibaly, and others, and its easy to see why everyone and their invisible best friends are declaring Napoli to be runaway favorites. Facing a team way down the table, and you'd naturally expect Napoli to kick ass and take names.
But Lorenzo Insigne is hurt. Koulibaly, Allan, Albiol, Ghoulam, and others look tired from this run of games. They're going to need to dig down and play at a high level against Palermo in order to assure a win, because this season in Serie A there's no such thing as a guarantee, no matter what kind of momentum you have going.
This is such a trap
Should Napoli beat Palermo? Absolutely. The rosanero haven't been very good this season. They have more losses than wins, and have won just one of their last five. They're a shadow of the team that impressed for long stretches of the season a season ago. Beppe Iachini has his work cut out for him if he wants to get this team turned around, though he does have a good core to work around.
At the top of that core is Franco Vazquez, who went crazy against Napoli last season. While his exact level of quality is certainly up for debate, what is for sure is that he's a kind of player that Napoli have struggled with this season. His kind of incisiveness on the ball is tricky to deal with, and Napoli will need to do a better job of accounting for him this time around if they want to avoid a repeat of his performances last year.
Palermo have also been enjoying a strong performance from new signing Oscar Hiljemark this season, who has stepped into their midfield and played extremely well, with a well-rounded skillset that's been a blessing for his new club. Whenever someone's gotten hurt or suspended or otherwise had to step out of the lineup, Hiljemark has been able to slide into their role with ease, plugging holes and scoring goals as needed.
Let's face it: this is a trap game if there ever was one. Lower-quality team, but one with a very in-form player and another who's been a thorn in Napoli's side? God, this is such a trap. Let's just hope it doesn't get spring.
Projected Lineups Sure To Be Wrong
Napoli: Reina; Hysaj, Chiriches, Koulibaly, Ghoulam; Allan, Jorginho, Hamsik; Callejon, Higuain, Mertens
Palermo: Sorrentino; Gonzalez, Andjelkovic, El Kaoutari; Rispoli, Jajalo, Rigoni, Miljemark, Lazaar; Vazquez, Gilardino
At A Glance
Palermo: 13th; 3W 2D 4L; League Form: DWLLL
Napoli: 3rd; 5W 3D 1L; League Form: WWWWD
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