Napoli might -- might -- just have themselves a shot at catching Juventus this weekend if things break their way. They'll know by the time their match kicks off thanks to an odd time slot -- more on that later -- but no matter what they'll need to make sure to secure all three points to at worst hold steady in the title chase.
Fortunately, Napoli are coming in very healthy, with only Gonzalo Higuain on the injury report as a very minor question mark. If Napoli open with anything other than a full-strength squad, it will be a surprise and worthy of note. That compared to Genoa, who seemingly have two-thirds of their roster dinged up to varying degrees, should leave Napoli fans feeling fairly confident.
Leaving them less confident is Genoa's array of ex-Napoli players -- fan favorite Blerim Dzemaili, Goran Pandev, and Naples-born ex-primavera player Armando Izzo. We all know how much former partenopei players like to come back and bite Napoli in the ass. We just have to hope that they don't bite too hard in this match.
In general, it's hard to get a feel for how much of a threat Genoa are right now. Their form see-saws back and forth so fast it's hard to predict how they'll perform in any given match, and at their best they can be a very dangerous opponent. At their worst, though, they're a team that's indecisive, vulnerable, and easy to pick apart. They're prone to long runs of shaky form, and as talented as their squad is, there's a reason why they're in 12th and have spent much of the season flirting with the relegation zone. Their recent rise aside, this is definitely a match that Napoli should win.
Of course, there's the time slot issue. Napoli have been thrown into an awkward, rarely-used time slot, 6 p.m. local time on a Sunday night. It also allows Juventus to play their match against Torino in the Derby della Mole without having to worry about what Napoli are doing at the same time, while Napoli have to follow it up by either having to worry about catching the bianconeri or just keep pace with them.
Maurizio Sarri is livid about this, but it's out of their hands. All they can do now is focus on what they can control -- and that's this game, in the San Paolo against Genoa. Get the three points, and worry about the rest of it later.
Projected Lineups Sure To Be Wrong
Genoa: Perin; Izzo, Burdisso, De Maio; Ansaldi, Dzemaili, Rincon, Silva; Suso, Pavoletti, Cerci
Napoli: Reina; Hysaj, Albiol, Koulibaly, Ghoulam; Allan, Jorginho, Hamsik; Callejon, Higuain, Insigne
At A Glance
Genoa: 12th; 9W 7D 13L; League Form: WWLWL
Napoli: 2nd; 19W 7D 3L; League Form: WWDDL
Reverse Fixture: Genoa 0-0 Napoli
A combination of bad luck and bad finishing doomed Napoli to a draw at a time when a win would have been very useful, though a few solid individual performances kept hopes up. That draw was sandwiched between seven-match and five-match all-competitions winning streaks for Napoli, making it just a bump in the road in the middle of one of Napoli's most successful runs of the season.
TV: Sky Calcio 1 (Italy), RAI International
Online: Sky Go Italia (Italy)
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