Napoli will face Fiorentina at the Stadio San Paolo this weekend, as they look to bounce back from a horror 3-0 loss to Sampdoria.
Hoping to wrestle the title away from perennial champions Juventus, Partenopei were left heartbroken last season as a monumental 91 points left them agonisingly short of their first Scudetto since 1989/90.
Carlo Ancelotti has taken over from the Chelsea bound Maurizio Sarri, and his new side may have a hard time adjusting to life without midfield dynamo Jorginho.
Here’s a look at Napoli’s possible line up for Saturday’s clash against Fiorentina.
1. Goalkeeper & Defence
David Ospina (GK) – On loan from Arsenal, Ospina has been first choice goalkeeper ever since Pepe Reina exited for AC Milan. However, with young Alex Meret bought in from Udinese for €35m, the Colombian might not be between Partenopei’s sticks for too long.
Elseid Hysaj (RB) – Tallying up 110 Serie A appearances with Napoli since his arrival in 2015, Hysaj has continued at the right back position since Carlo Ancelotti’s ingress. The Albanian is a near lock every week, and this one should be no different.
Mario Rui (LB) – Brought in on an initial loan-to-buy deal from Roma, Napoli decided to purchase the Portuguese outright earlier this year. Racking up the caps for his national side, Rui may have found home after turning out for seven clubs in eight years.
Kalidou Koulibaly (CB) – A move to the Premier League was rumoured, with SW6 and old manager Maurizio Sarri connecting the dots. However, Koulibaly has instead chosen to stay in the south of Italy. Possessing great strength, pace and power, the Senegalese international is one of the best central defenders around.
Raul Albiol (CB) – A member of Spain’s 2010 World Cup winning squad, the 33-year-old still has plenty of time left at the top in Serie A. Transferring from Real Madrid five years ago, Albiol was a central character in Napoli’s 2013/14 Coppa Italia success.
Allan (DM) – The unsung hero of Napoli’s central trio, Allan’s furiously unrelenting energy allows his two midfield teammates to go on and create something special. Monitoring the pitch just in front of his defensive colleagues, the feisty Brazilian is a master at breaking up opposition attacks.
Piotr Zielinski (CM) – Scoring against the Italians while playing for his native Poland this week, Zielinski may look to make amends. A big performance against Fiorentina would likely have the Neapolitan people forgetting about his misdeeds in Bologna.
Marek Hamsik (CM) – The Slovakian is heralded as a golden god in Naples, and with good reason. Joining the club way back in 2007, Hamsik has recently broken the club’s all time goal scoring record, previously held by one Diego Maradona. Making his 398th Serie A appearance for Partenopei, the captain will once again lead his side into battle at the Stadio San Paolo.
Jose Callejon (RW) – Dropped for Simone Verdi before the international break, Napoli were humbled 3-0 by Sampdoria. Looking to challenge Dries Mertens for a starting berth on Saturday, the Spaniard’s eye for goal may be needed against Fiorentina.
Arkadiusz Milik (CF) – Brought in as a long term replacement for turncoat Gonzalo Higuain, the Pole has suffered two anterior cruciate ligament injuries since joining in 2016. Hoping to find form and stay fit, Milik will be a big part of Napoli’s domestic challenge this season.
Lorenzo Insigne (LW) – The diminutive Italian has surged up through the ranks in Naples, joining his boyhood club at aged 15. Always a key figure, you’d be hard pressed to rival the kind of love he receives from Partenopei’s curva A.