After producing a goalless draw against Catania, Napoli will want to get back to fighting ways. They will see this fixture as a vital step back to business as usual. Napoli are sitting comfortably in the middle of the domestic table in tenth place, and they will be ready to start scoring again.
Lazio on the other hand will be reeling from the 4-1 thrashing from Villarreal, and the following league defeat to Milan. They will be longing for a good result, so that they can put the humiliating Europa League defeat behind them. Lazio have fallen from grace, so to speak. Not too long ago the eagles were flying high, now they have been kicked down to third place in the Europa League. Their domestic league is not any better, as after last weeks loss to Milan they are currently perched above the relegation zone. Davide Ballardini’s job is also at risk, if more encouraging results fail to come, he may be replaced.
The Azzurri will be in fighting spirits, as they are just three points of fourth place. They are ready to come out with “guns blazing.” Boss Walter Mazzarri has opted to put all his faith in the trio of Marik Hamsik, Ezequiel Lavezzi and Fabio Quagliarella. After rumours of Hamsik heading to England, all eyes will be on him to produce something extraordinary.
The draw against Catania was a reality check. Just because they are able to make the likes of Milan and Juventus slip up, does not mean the rest of the Serie A teams will be a walk in the park! The team from Naples will have quite a fight on their hands when they play Lazio. They will be up against a wounded team, as Lazio have just suffered a major loss against Villarreal in Europe. The Partenopei would be wise to treat these wounded eagles with some respect.
26 De Sanctis
2 Grava-28 Cannavaro-96 Contini
11 Maggio-23 Gargano-21 Cigarini-16 Zuniga
17 Hamsik-7 Lavezzi
Lazio need a win more than ever, with both their domestic and European campaigns in dire straits. The tifosi will be demanding more, but maybe a bit too much from the team from Rome to deliver. The fans are not the only reason they need a win, Ballardini has the added pressure that he may lose his job to Edy Reja, who is currently in charge of Croatian side Hajduk Split. This pressure from both sides of the footballing world – the fans and the management – will mean that a lot more will be expected of Mauro Zarate.
Zarate scored the only goal in their encounter with Milan, with some help from Massimo Oddo. During that game the Biancocelesti made quite a few defensive errors. Errors which have prompted them to begin the hunt for someone more solid. That someone is Humberto Alves Araujo Rever, the Brazilian centre-back from Gremio.
2 Lichtseiner-13 Siviglia-26 Radu-11 Kolarov
32 Brocchi-33 Boronio-5 Mauri
9 Rocchi-10 Zarate
These two teams have had the international break to try and think of ways to put enthusiasm back into the players and bring some continuity. The international friendlies also shed some light on some interesting players. Goran Pandev of Lazio scored a brace for his country but has been frozen out of the first team. A mistake maybe? How big a mistake will only be realised with time. Also Antonio Candreva, the young Italian international who got his debut during the Italy vs Holland match is getting a lot of attention from Napoli, Inter and Juventus. Who gets him could be decided on who has the biggest wallet.
Lazio were once a team that used to be amongst the elite, whereas know they reside in the lower end of the table. Napoli are in the exact opposite predicament, and they will use this game to get back the continuity required to stay at the top.