Just weeks after they were nipping at Roma's heels at second place, Napoli find themselves three points out of third and with two teams nipping at their heels just a point behind them. Atalanta are desperately trying to claw their way further clear of the relegation zone, making this a potential recipe for disaster if Napoli can't pull this one out. Just win, guys.
Staving Off Pressure
To put it bluntly, Atalanta are bad. They're just four points clear of the relegation zone, and for very good reason; they haven't won in seven weeks, stretching back to a match against Cagliari that they won almost literally as the referee was bringing the whistle to his lips to blow for full time. They haven't scored multiple goals since the match after that, and have yet to score a single goal under new manager, and former Napoli boss, Edy Reja, who took over earlier this month after Stefano Colanturo found himself embroiled in match fixing allegations.
Of course, all that means that they have a very good chance of beating Napoli, because that's how this season has gone. Especially with German freakin' Denis around.
They're a little beat up themselves right now, with one key midfielder suspended and three defenders either out or limited by injury. They don't have the greatest of depth, so dealing with those absences won't be easy, but they won't give up without a fight, especially with Reja in charge.
Get $#!& Done
Napoli have been in brutal form in the league, losing each of their last three away matches, Luckily this one is at home, but they drew their last league bout at the San Paolo and weren't particularly impressive in the two wins at home before that. None of that matters, though, because Napoli have to win, no matter what, in order to at least keep pace with the teams ahead of them, and hopefully pull closer. If they start falling further off the pace, there's a very real chance they fall out of the European places in the table entirely.
Napoli are beat up on the back line and worn out in other places, making this lineup a depleted one and the task more difficult. They should still be good enough to win this match, though, as long as they keep focused. Of course, that's been an issue against the lesser teams Napoli have faced; hopefully that's not the case in this match.
Projected Lineups Sure To Be Wrong
Napoli: Andujar; Mesto, Henrique, Koulibaly, Britos; Lopez, Inler; Gabbiadini, Hamsik, De Guzman; Higuain
Atalanta: Sportiello; Cherubin, Stendaro, Biava; Masiello, Cigarini, Migliaccio, Emanuelson; Moralez, Gomez; Denis
At A Glance
Atalanta: 17th; 5W 10D 12L; League Form: DDLLLL
Napoli: 4th; 13W 7D 7L; League Form: LDLWLW
When Last We Met: Atalanta 1, Napoli 1
Bad luck, bad decision making, and bad finishing doomed Napoli to a draw in one of the more brutal stretches of the season so far. German freakin' Denis scored the opening goal of the match when Raul Albiol blew his defensive coverage, and it took until almost the last minute for Napoli to find an equalizer through Gonzalo Higuain. If you can bear to put yourself through remembering the match, the full recap is here.
TV: Premium Calcio 2/HD, Sky Calcio 3 (Italy)
Online: beIN Sports Connect (U.S. & Canada), Sky Go Italia (Italy), RAI International
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