With the top two sides in the league facing off on Monday, Napoli have a fantastic chance to gain more ground on them with a win over Torino. It's an opportunity they must take, and hopefully by this time tomorrow we're celebrating a positive result and a closer standing to the teams atop the Serie A table.
Torino have had an up-and-down season in the league, thanks to a couple runs of injuries added to the extra effort of their Europa League campaign. That campaign could also serve as more of a problem for Torino than for Napoli in this tie, since Napoli just played at home on Thursday while Torino had to come back from Spain.
Of course, Torino are also riding a high from the Europa League, after earning a huge win at the San Mames against Athletic Bilbao, something Napoli couldn't do earlier this season. However, they had to run their first-string lineup hard to get that result, and they lack the depth to make up for any fatigue.
Il Toro will be without Giuseppe Vives, who misses out with a yellow card accumulation suspension, and new signing Alvaro Gonzalez is a doubt with a minor injury. A key figure for Torino's attack will be Omar El Kaddouri, with Torino on loan from Napoli. El Kaddouri struggled the last time these two teams then lost his temper and was shown a red card after the match, but he's been on a fantastic run of form of late.
One Step At A Time
Thanks to their huge first leg lead, Napoli were able to heavily rotate the squad and head in to this match well rested. Every match from here on is a must-win, but this one is especially so given the rest of the Serie A schedule for the weekend. With Juventus and Roma facing off on Monday, three points will be absolutely vital - if Juventus win in Rome, Napoli could pull even with Roma on points, and if they draw Napoli can draw two points closer if they win. Of course, if Roma somehow win, Napoli will need all three points just to keep up.
Just friggin' win.
Napoli are, fortunately, at full strength, or as close to as they can manage at the moment. The notable exception is the lack of Dries Mertens, who is suspended thanks to the red card he picked up on Monday against Sassuolo. Otherwise, expect a full-strength lineup from Rafa Benitez, with the only real question mark right now being who starts in goal.
Projected Lineups Sure To Be Wrong
Torino: Padelli; Maksimovic, Glik, Moretti; Peres, Gazzi, Benassi, Darmian; El Kaddouri; Martinez, Quagliarella
Napoli: Andujar; Maggio, Albiol, Koulibaly, Strinic; Lopez, Gargano; Callejon, Hamsik, Gabbiadini; Higuain
At a glance
Torino: 11th; 8W 9D 7L; League Form: DDWWWW
Napoli: 3rd; 13W 6D 5L; League Form: WLWWWW
When Last We Met: Napoli 2-1 Torino
In October, Napoli hosted Torino and earned an easy win, with Lorenzo Insigne putting in a sublime performance and kicked off his excellent run of form that he enjoyed before tearing his ACL a month later. It was technically a comeback win, with Insigne equalizing an early goal from former Napoli star Fabio Quagliarella and Jose Callejon providing a winner late in the match, but most of the run of play was dominated by Napoli. The full recap, should you wish to walk down memory lane, is here.
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