It's time. It's time! IT'S TIME! Serie A is back, ladies and gents. Screw Christmas, this is the most wonderful time of the year.
Eusebio Di Francesco's side looks hungry and ready to surprise the league in this coming campaign. They took surprisingly few lumps in the transfer window, with only Simone Zaza standing as a big loss, but their incoming transfers were smart and well thought-out. They were a solid team a year ago, and if appearances hold true, they could be even better this season.
They're coming into the season in fairly good health, with only a couple of players out or dinged up, none of whom were likely to start today. Not enough people are looking at Sassuolo as a threat this season, but they should be -- this is a good team, and they're going to make some people mad this season.
Starting a new era
The preseason has gone swimmingly for Napoli so far. They thrashed all the minnows they should have thrashed, and even though they failed to win either of their matches against bigger teams, they played impressively enough to create optimism in the fanbase. All feels wonderfully rosy for Maurizio Sarri and his new team -- but now the preseason is over, and the matches count for real.
Sassuolo will be a stern test for Napoli's rebuilt and retooled side, as they're a disciplined team with a lot of quality of their own. Still, this is a team that the parteniopei have a notable talent advantage over, and they should beat Sassuolo. Napoli didn't consistently beat they teams they should beat last season, so starting off this campaign with a win in such a match would be a good sign that things are on the upswing. If Napoli can get a win and a strong performance in this match, they'll be off to a lovely start indeed.
In terms of squad news, the only member of what looks like the "idea" starting XI that's out is Faouzi Ghoulam, who is serving a one-match suspension after getting sent off in the season finale against Lazio. Otherwise, four others have been left out who are all likely to be sold before the close of the transfer window: Jonathan De Guzman, Camilo Zuniga, Edu Vargas, and Mariano Andujar, the latter of whom is also nursing a broken wrist.
Goalkeepers: Pepe Reina, Rafael Cabral, Gabriel
Defender: Christian Maggio, Elseid Hysaj, Henrique, Ivan Strinic, Vlad Chiriches, Kalidou Koulibaly, Sebastiano Luperto, Raul Albiol
Midfielders: Mirko Valdifiori, Allan, Jorginho, Marek Hamsik, David Lopez, Jacopo Dezi, Omar El Kaddouri
Forwards: Dries Mertens, Jose Callejon, Lorenzo Insigne, Manolo Gabbiadini, Gonzalo Higuain
Projected Lineups Sure To Be Wrong
Sassuolo: Consigli; Vrsaljko, Cannavaro, Acerbi, Peluso; Duncan, Biondini, Missiroli; Berardi, Defrel, Sansone
Napoli: Reina; Maggio, Albiol, Chiriches, Hysaj; Allan, Valdifiori, Hamsik; Insigne; Gabbiadini, Higuain
TV: Sky Calcio 3, Premium Calcio 2 (Italy)
Online: Sky Go Italia (Italy)
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