Napoli are hard enough when they come to you but when a team travels to the San Paolo, they are darn near impossible to break down. Much like Inter, they have not lost a single home game. In addition, Inter have not won this fixture in our last three meetings. This is clearly a problem seeing as the chasing pack has found its form again; those two dropped points in Parma mean this game is even more crucial to our scudetto plans. The whole plan is to beat the mid and bottom table teams so you have a little wiggle room with the top 5 or 6. Well, that didn't happen so no wiggling for Inter - we are just going to have to win this one (for once). Three points would be the best Valentines Day gift ever!
What: Napoli v Inter
Where: San Paolo, Naples
When: Sunday, February 14, 8:45pm local time (11:45am pacific, 2:45pm eastern)
How to Watch: This game will televised live on FSC and ESPN International or you could find a stream: MyP2P, Rojadirecta, Ustream, and ATDHE.net
As I said above, we haven't won this fixture in quite some time: the last time was back in October of 1997. More recently, the games have ended 1-0 in their favor. Well, in Zalayeta's favor. He has scored the winning goal these past two years. Luckily he doesn't play for Napoli any more so maybe we have a chance. No highlights, last year's game was too depressingly awful for Inter.
Mario was one of the few bright spots in last year's tie.
Walter Mazzarri has calle up 18 players for the match:
De Sanctis, Iezzo, Aronica, Campagnaro, Cannavaro, Dossena, Grava, Rinaudo, Roller, Zuniga, Bogliacino, Cigarini, Gargano, Hamsik, Pazienza, Denis, Hoffer, Quagliarella.
Last week there was some talk that this would be Levezzi's comeback game but Mazzarri has decided not to risk him. I think Santacroce is also injured (although I am not certain). In addition, Cristian Maggio is banned for this game (wrongly, I should say - that was never a card). Even missing those key players, though, Mazzarri with a heck of a team to work with. La Gazzetta thinks it may come out like this:
Campagnaro Cannavaro Grava
Zuniga Gargano Pazienza Dossena
Even though he is injured, Lavezzi can still contribute. He makes a wonderful spokes model (admit it, none of you are looking at the watch).
Basically, Quags and Hamsik are going to be trouble. Between the two of them they have 15 goals and an additional 5 assists. Napoli have only allowed 7 goals at home so they must be doing something right in defense as well. A quick trip to ESPN shows that Napoli are particularly dangerous in the last half hour of play: they have scored 17 of their 32 goals during that phase of the game. To me, that suggests they are quite physically fit and fully able to play a full 90 minutes. Oh, and if being young and fast and well-organized was not enough, Napoli sit at fourth place and can practically taste Europe. This is a dangerous team.
I ♥ the Inter.it caption guy.
Mourinho has called everyone up again:
Portieri: Toldo, Julio Cesar, Orlandoni;
Difensori: Cordoba, Zanetti, Lucio, Maicon, Samuel, Santon;
Centrocampisti: Quaresma, Thiago Motta, Sneijder, Muntari, Krhin, Mariga, Cambiasso;
Attaccanti: Eto'o, Milito, Pandev, Balotelli, Arnautovic.
Stankovic is still injured but it looks like he will start training with the rest of the team next week. He should be ready to go for Sampdoria. Chivu is out, as is Materazzi. Apparently, though, Materazzi's injury is not so bad and he may also be ready next weekend. Good news, indeed. We need all hands on deck for the next few weeks.
Right, well there is not much speculation here. Mourinho has already named his starting squad:
Maicon, Lucio, Samuel, Santon,
Zanetti, Cambiasso, Muntari,
Pandev and Milito
Not much else to talk about. I suppose Balo and Eto'o will make the bench, as will T.Motta, Mariga and Cordoba.
What we need is complete concentration for this game. We need the good Maicon to show up - you remember him, the one who the best rightback in the world? We need Muntari to keep it under control - no more suspensions, thank you very much. We need Julio Cesar to be at his Dreamcatcher best, and we need to make the absolute most of every corner. I dont think that is too much to ask, do you?
No matter the outcome of this game - we are still number 1. I would just like to be first-er. Sampdoria has picked up the pace as well, and from now until the end of May, there are no sure things. Not even Sienna on the last day (poor Sienna). I know Chelsea is looming, but we cannot afford to take our eye off the league right now - save Chelsea for later, they aren't going anywhere. The good news for us is that Lucio and Samuel are back together in defense and Sneijder should be good and rested. Wesley seems to have really bonded with the team and Mourinho and I am sure he will give his all. If the team really wants these points, then I believe there is not a team in Italy who could stop them. We just have to want it more - derby style.
I know I said not to think about them, but how about a little confidence boost (I suggest you turn the sound off, though. Yikes):