Things haven't exactly been going to plan for Napoli of late, and their slide in form is threatening to become a full-blown tailspin. They've got yet another tough match in what's been a brutal February as they prepare for a trip to face Fiorentina, and if they don't find a way to get all three points, things could start to get very dicey for the partenopei.
Fortunately, Napoli come into this match fairly close to full strength. Only Ivan Strinic and Omar El Kaddouri failed to make the trip, and neither has been a regular in the starting lineup for Napoli in the league this season. Their midfield depth has also been given a boost, as January signing Alberto Grassi has finally been cleared to join the squad and will be on the bench.
Regardless of health, however, Napoli must play much sharper and get back to the ruthless edge they once carried in every match, but has been missing of late. Their teamwork in the final third and general efficiency has been lacking, and that combined with fatigue has helped lead the way to their drop in form. Unfortunately, Fiorentina isn't going to be an easy opponent to try to get that back with -- but that doesn't mean that Napoli shouldn't try, and they absolutely need to push to the fullest to get it back.
Fiorentina have been improving their form after a period of struggle, thanks largely to a few tactical adjustments made by manager Paulo Sousa. They've been playing a bit more fluidly and with quicker play in their attack, headlined by the fantastic form of attacking midfielder Federico Bernardeschi. Keeping him at bay won't be easy, but it will be necessary.
That job might be made easier by the absence via suspension of Mauro Zarate, who got sent of in spectacularly stupid fashion in what was admittedly a controversial ending to Fiorentina's match against Inter two weeks ago. His high-energy style is quite disruptive to opposing defenses and creates spaces for his teammates to exploit, and Fiorentina don't have another player who quite fills that void.
In any case, this is going to be a damn tough match. Napoli might get helped by the fact that Fiorentina just got punched in the teeth over and over and over and over by Tottenham in the Europa League, but it's not like their own spirits are high after the trials and tribulations of the last few weeks. This isn't going to be easy, it probably won't be fun -- but Napoli still have to find some way, any way, to win and get their momentum turned back around.
Projected Lineups Sure To Be Wrong
Fiorentina: Tatarusanu; Roncaglia, Rodriguez, Astori, Alonso; Badelj, Vecino; Bernardeschi, Valero, Ilicic; Babacar
Napoli: Reina; Hysaj, Albiol, Koulibaly, Ghoulam; Allan, Jorginho, Hamsik; Callejon, Higuain, Insigne
At A Glance
Fiorentina: 4th; 16W 4D 6L; League Form: WWDWDW
Napoli: 2nd; 17W 6D 3L; League Form: DLWWWW
Reverse Fixture: Napoli 2-1 Fiorentina
A dominant second half display saw Napoli score two divine goals sandwiched around a Fiorentina equalizer. The scoreline could and should have been much wider -- Fiorentina scored on their only good chance of the match, and Napoli had been somewhat wasteful with good chances earlier in the match. Some poor refereeing lead to a physical end to the match that forced Dries Mertens to leave with an injury, but Napoli still easily dominated the match and never looked like they were going to lose, even during the whopping two minutes between Fiorentina's equalizer and Napoli re-taking the lead.
TV: beIN Sports (U.S.), Sky Calcio 1, Sky Sport 1 HD Italia (Italy), BT Sport Europe (U.K.), RAI International
Online: FuboTV, beIN Sports Connect (U.S.), Sky Go Italia (Italy), BT Sport Live Streaming (U.K.)
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