It's time again to play in Serie A, with Napoli on the road to play Hellas Verona at the Bentegodi. The match comes at an awkward time for Napoli, with a slide in league form needing to be corrected, but the club also needing to focus on making sure they advance in the Europa League with a tough road match coming in just a few short days. The league must come first, though, for if Napoli lose this ... well, let's hope Napoli don't lose.
The Blue Hides The Bruises
Hellas Verona came in to this season with high hopes and expectations. They finished 10th a year ago and wanted to push higher, perhaps even challenging for a Europa League place. Instead, they've fallen way off, battered by injuries and poor form, sitting far closer to the relegation zone than to a European place.
They lost badly to Napoli earlier this season, and will hope to earn a little revenge, but are missing their two best central defenders as well as a pair of midfield regulars with injuries. Andrea Mandorlini has a tall task ahead of him to get his team functioning properly, but if he can there's definitely vulnerabilities in Napoli's side to exploit, especially with their guests' own defense looking rather battered right now. It also doesn't help that Luca Toni always seems to do well against Napoli, which is super annoying.
Get The Train Moving
Napoli beat the everloving hope out of Hellas Verona when these two sides last faced off, and Napoli must do the same thing again in this match. Things have gone off the rails lately, with two losses and a draw in the last four matches for the partenopei, and they can't afford to do anything less than win.
Why's that? It's not just because Lazio are ahead of Napoli on goal differential or because Roma are still there begging to be caught in second place - though those factors do play a huge role. Napoli's current record has them dangerously close to falling behind last season's mark - they've already equaled last season's total of six losses, and are at seven draws compared to the nine from a year ago. This was supposed to be a season of advancement, of taking steps forward, and instead we've gotten anything but.
Stop the bleeding, Napoli. Win this match. Kick the snot out of Verona again. Just do it.
Projected Lineups Sure To Be Wrong
Verona: Rafael; Martic, Moras, Sorensen, Agostini; Tachtsidis, Halfredsson, Christodoulopoulos; Gomez, Toni, Jankovic
Napoli: Andujar; Maggio, Albiol, Britos, Ghoulam; Lopez, Jorginho; Gabbiadini, Hamsik, De Guzman; Zapata
At A Glance
Verona: 15th; 7W 8D 11L; League Form: DWDLLL
Napoli: 3rd; 13W 7D 6L; League Form: DLWLWW
When Last We Met: Napoli 6, Hellas Verona 2
The long version of this would be full of praise and prose, but we'll stick with the short version: Napoli bent Verona over their knee and took a paddle to them. The full recap, complete with Vines of the glorious, glorious goals, is here.
TV: Sky Calcio 1, Sky Sport 1 HD Italia (Italy), BT Sport Extra (U.K.)
Online: Fubo TV (U.S.), beIN Sports Connect (U.S. & Canada), Sky GO Italia (Italy), RAI International (international)
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.