Palermo are an annoying club who were extra-annoying the last time they faced Napoli. Napoli are far from the only side that Palermo have caused problems for this season, and the newly-promoted side are in ninth place in Italy because of it. Hopefully, though, it's Napoli's turn to do the annoying.
Palermo haven't exactly been a power in Serie A this season, but they've been a constant thorn in the side of Serie A clubs all season long. They forced their way to a dramatic draw in Naples back in September, and have lost just twice since the start of November, earning good and/or surprising results against AC Milan, Genoa, Torino, Sassuolo, and Roma along the way.
Paulo Dybala and his eleven league goals are at the heart of their success, with the young Argentine showing up as one of the most exciting young talents in Europe this season. Franco Vazquez has also been a fair revelation himself, and a number of other players have all performed above expectations. Giuseppe Iachini hasn't seemed particularly optimistic when he's talked about the match this week, but Napoli will have to be on top of their game to win.
Palermo will have a couple key players out, though - defensive star Giancarlo Gonzalez is out suspended, and midfield regular Enzo Maresca is out injured, as is key reserve Roberto Vitiello.
Keep On Rollin'
Napoli are on a wonderful run that they need to keep going, but on the road to Palermo won't be an easy place to accomplish that. They're coming off the heels of a couple of somewhat difficult wins, but the momentum generated has been fantastic and now it's time to take the next step.
That involves overcoming one of the toughest results from Napoli's tough spell early in the season. Fortunately, there's as close to a full-strength squad as Napoli can currently muster available. Rafa Benitez will have some lineup choices to make as far as rotation goes - with the first knockout round of the Europa League starting next week against a not-easy opponent in Trabzonspor, he might keep a regular starter or two in reserve to keep them fresh for the vital match.
Projected Lineups Sure To Be Wrong
Palermo: Sorrentino; Terzi, Andjelkovic, Daprela; Morganella, Rigoni, Barreto, Lazaar; Vazquez; Belotti, Dybala
Napoli: Rafael; Maggio, Albiol, Koulibaly, Strinic; Lopez, Jorginho; Gabbiadini, Hamsik, De Guzman; Higuain
At a glance
Palermo: 9th; 7W 9D 6L; League Form: LWDDL
Napoli: 3rd; 12W 6D 4L; League Form: WWWWL
When Last We Met
The last meeting between these two sides was ... annoying. Napoli roared out to a 2-0 lead, and lost it. They scored again to go up 3-2, and lost that lead too. Napoli's goals were fun, but their too-frequent lapses in concentration and discipline were indicative of too many of the problems Napoli suffered early in the season. The full match report, should you be brave enough to endure it, is here.
TV: beIN Sports (U.S., Canada), Sky Calcio 1, Premium Calcio (Italy), BT Sport 2
Online: beIN Sports Connect (U.S., Canada), 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.