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Across the pitch: A inside look at Napoli

We talk with Siren’s Song manager Conor Dowley about today’s clash.

Manchester City v SSC Napoli - UEFA Champions League Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images

It will be an early battle for the top spot in Serie A when Internazionale takes on Napoli today.

To get you fully prepared, we sat down with Conor Dowley, manager of The Siren’s Song website dedicated to Napoli.

Here’s what he had to say:

1. We are well into the season. Now that you have seen Napoli both in Serie A and Champions League play, what is your assessment of the team?

Manchester City v SSC Napoli - UEFA Champions League
Napoli player Faouzi Ghoulam in action during the UEFA Champions League group F match between Manchester City and SSC Napoli at Etihad Stadium on October 17, 2017 in Manchester, United Kingdom.
Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

The answer to that question depends very much on which competition you’re looking at. In Serie A, Napoli are a hyper-focused side with a dominant possession game and a quick-trigger attack that’s taken down literally everyone in the league they’ve faced so far. In the Champions League, though, they’ve been somewhat less than that, seeming to struggle with their focus and losing two painful matches because of it.

Many Napoli fans, though, are choosing to focus on those outstanding league results, including going to Rome twice in a short span and beating both Lazio and Roma, something not too many teams manage to do. If they can keep up that momentum, this might actually threaten to finally be “their” season to make a real title push. The early results have certainly been promising, but now we’re getting into a kind of crunch time that will really test Napoli’s mettle.

2. For this match, which member of Napoli will be the most crucial and why? Which matchups are you most excited about?

FC Internazionale Milano v UC Sampdoria - Serie A
Danilo D'Ambrosio (L) of FC Internazionale Milano celebrates after scoring the opening goal with team mate Joao Miranda during the Serie A match between FC Internazionale Milano and UC Sampdoria at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on February 20, 2016 in Milan, Italy.
Photo by Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images

The same answer I’ve had for a few weeks now: Jorginho. He’s the pivot point in Napoli’s possession game and a deeply underrated element of the overall attack, and his absence is sorely felt whenever he’s out of the lineup.

As for a one-on-one matchup, I really want to see what happens when Lorenzo Insigne goes up against Danilo D’Ambrosio. Now, he’s not a lock to start thanks to a thigh injury picked up midweek, but if he does play D’Ambrosio and his reliance on tactical positioning over pace or technical skill could be … beneficial for Insigne and Napoli.

3. Which Nerazzurri impresses you the most and which one scares you the most?

FC Internazionale v AC Milan - Serie A
Mauro Emanuel Icardi of FC Internazionale Milano (C) celebrates his third goal with his team-mates during the Serie A match between FC Internazionale and AC Milan at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on October 15, 2017 in Milan, Italy.
Photo by Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images

The obvious answer here is Mauro Icardi since he’s scored a bushel full of goals, but I hate being obvious. Though the idea of him getting isolated against Raul Albiol is more than a little terrifying…

Ahem.

I’ve always been a big fan of Ivan Perisic, and it’s been a pleasure to see him finally get back to the kind of form that made him fun in Germany. I’m hopeful that Allan and Elseid Hysaj can help keep him in check, but if anyone in the Inter side is going to give Napoli fits, it’s Perisic and his surprisingly silky passing.

4. The Champions League is a prestigious competition, but it can be draining to teams. You are coming off a game earlier this week. What impact does playing in the CL have on these Serie A games for Napoli?

So far, it hasn’t had much, but they also hadn’t had a match quite as emotionally and physically draining as the game against Manchester City. Further increasing the drain was that grind of a match against Roma the weekend before, and Napoli could believably be rather fatigued because of it.

But Maurizio Sarri has been trying to manage his rotation as carefully as possible, keeping players fresh with days off and key substitutions. This weekend is the biggest test of that preparation yet, so hopefully some good comes of it.

5. Last, but certainly not least, pick the game. What’s the final score and how does the game flow?

I see a 2-1 win for Napoli here. It’ll be a tight game, but form and the home field advantage win out in the end.