Date: Sunday, May 3, 2015
Time: 2.45pm ET / 20.45 CET
Venue: Stadio San Paolo, Naples; Italy
Wednesday I was asking for some dignity before the game against Genoa, but what we saw that day was really far from the idea of dignity I have in my mind. The team played another terrible match, giving the total control of the game to their opponents and showing an alarming - but not new - lack of ideas about the offensive maneuver.
Now we have the opportunity to start playing better again and Napoli is probably one of the best matchups we could find at this point of the season - I'm saying that quietly. First of all, They lost their last game against Empoli with an embarrassing 4-2 and they have to manage the roster to be ready for their first match against Dnipro on May 7, 2015 so they're not in the ideal situation for an important - at least sentimentally - game. Then the tactical matchup: they usually play with a 4-2-3-1/4-3-3 formation characterized by a talented offense (Higuain, Callejon, Gabbiadini and Insigne/Mertens are among the best strikers in the league), a tough but not technical midfield and a very poor defense. Like us, they have a lot of good - but still better than ours - individual players, especially forward, but they don't have a clear playing idea. They mix up the old "Mazzarri-like" counterattack/transition offense and a more reasoned maneuver, but they don't have enough quality among their midfielders to execute the second one efficiently.
Despite the (cautious) optimism shown before, Napoli is still a dangerous opponent. This is due to Jeremy Menez 4 games (1+3) suspension (he insulted the ref after being sent off on Wednesday night), our emergency on defense - Mexès and Abate are suspended too - and, obviously, to their offensive talent. It will be necessary to be focused for the entire game to try to beat them like in December, when we were cynical enough to win with the result of 2-0 after a very balanced match.