Napoli vs. TorinoBy: Neil | October 26th, 2013
Last season Napoli was unable to win this fixture, conceding a last minute equalizer after comfortably leading 1-0 most of the way. It was only memorable because it was one of Salvatore Aronica’s last games before being sent to Palermo in the winter transfer window. Of course it was Aronica’s error, a blind pass back, which sent the Torino striker on a clear breakaway to level the score and steal a point. In many ways Aronica deserved better after giving so much to the Napoli jersey for a few years. But the incident also illustrated how defenders at this level need to be at their best, and how one lapse in concentration can have devastating consequences. Against Roma we saw the same thing with Cannavaro, who was whistled for two fouls, but collectively the plays gave Roma a 2 goal lead and put Napoli a man down. Defensive reinforcements are much needed in the winter mercato, but until then Napoli will have to suffer a little.
Rafa hasn’t revealed his starting lineup, but the back end seems obvious. Reina in net, and a back four of Mesto, Fernandez, Albiol, and Armero. It’s possible Maggio could start in place of Mesto, but I’m guessing Maggio will be rested for Fiorentina on Wednesday.
In central midfield one of Inler or Behrami will make way for Dzemaili, who scored a memorable hat trick against Torino in Napoli’s 5-3 win in the reverse fixture last season. Most predictions have Inler resting and a central mid of Dzemaili and Behrami.
Up front is anybody’s guess. Hamsik has struggled lately, but only by his own high standards. He could be given a rest, and Higuain is another unknown as there are questions about his fitness. Napoli may use Insigne, Mertens, and Callejon in the trequartista line with either Pandev or Duvan as prima punta. And while we’re talking about Duvan, I got a good scouting report on the young striker from a Colombian friend. Basically when Duvan was a teenager in Colombia he was not popular as he was big and tough but his game lacked skill. However, when he went to Argentina (Estudiantes) he worked on his game and built up his skill level in a healthy environment. According to my friend, Duvan has become a good prospect, and if his skill and tactical intelligence continue to improve he has a very high ceiling.
Back to Torino. The Granata are mid table with 2 wins, 4 draws, and 2 losses from eight games. Their goal difference is even with 13 scored and conceded. This is the kind of match Napoli should win comfortably at home, even with some star players rested. However, Torino will be harder than say Bologna or Livorno. Alessio Cerci and Ciro Immobile are tricky opponents, and even a player like Meggiorini can find the net. So look for a solid Napoli win, but not a flattering scoreline.