Excited yet? Serie A finally begins this weekend! Napoli kick things off with a visit to Genoa, where they'll be hoping to put aside their Champions League woes by taking all three points at the Marassi. A solid start could galvanize their scudetto dreams -- but a poor showing could well be the beginning of the end for Rafa Benítez.
So...Genoa. Do we really know what to expect from them? Gian Piero Gasperini returned to the club early last season, and managed to lift them from the relegation zone to a respectable 14th. But that was nowhere near his impressive accomplishments during his previous time with the gialloblu, when he took them into Europe. His much-lauded, "attacking" 3-4-3 didn't appear all that "attacking" last season, with Genoa scoring just 41 goals, and when bagging two in a game seemed to cause a stir.
But Genoa are meant to be concentrating on the attack more this season, which is good as their defense is rather crap. They've lost Alberto Gilardino, but apparently they believe bringing in Mauricio Pinilla and Alessandro Matri will more than compensate. Alas, we won't see the latter and his fabulously long lashes.
Going into this match, it's hard not to be depressing or pessimistic about Napoli. Mostly because the second-leg performance against Athletic Bilbao was just dire. The backline fell to pieces, Raúl Albiol seemed to forget how to defend, and we're still wondering why Walter Gargano is starting for a side gunning for the title.
And yay, we still get more of Miguel Britos, what with Faouzi Ghoulam being out for at least a month.
Anyway, we've seen these guys recently. And we're hoping for more. We're hoping for Gokhan Inler in the starting lineup, although it looks like it's going to be Gargano again. We'd like to see some great interplay between Dries Mertens, José Callejón and Marek Hamšík. We want to see Pipita scoring some goals.
Then maybe we'll forget, yet again, to be terrified about the defense.
Projected Lineups Sure To Be Wrong
Genoa (3-4-3): Mattia Perin; Sebastian De Maio, Nicolás Burdisso, Giovanni Marchese; Edenílson, Tomás Rincón, Stefano Sturaro, Luca Antonelli; Iago, Mauricio Pinilla, Diego Perotti
Napoli (4-2-3-1): Rafael; Christian Maggio, Raúl Albiol, Kalidou Koulibaly, Miguel Britos; Walter Gargano, Jorghino; José Callejón, Marek Hamšík, Dries Mertens; Gonzalo Higuaín
At a glance
It's the first game of the season! The table doesn't matter yet! Nor do we have anything to report about current form!
Last season, Napoli won 2-0 in Genoa, while the score was 1-1 at the San Paolo. Oh, and Goran Pandev scored the brace in the win. That was weird.
The match will start Sunday at 8:45 PM CET/2:45 PM EST. Television coverage will be on Premium Calcio 2 in Italy (what, Inter gets the good stuff?) and RAI International in the USA and Canada. You can also catch it on beIN Sports Connect if you get that channel) 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.