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Napoli - Lazio is undoubtedly the match to watch in Serie A's midweek round. SB Nation Soccer brings you both sides of the story.
Let's face it: Napoli lost last weekend. Sure, they may have picked up a point, but a 0-0 draw against a Catania side that was down to ten men within two minutes is really a loss. It's a stumble in the race up the table, it's fodder for those who say the partenopei can never challenge for the title, it's a blow to the ego.
It'd be easy to say that the draw was down to excellent defending by Catania. After all, sides that lose a man often park the bus, making it impossible to find the goal. But the Napoli that played on Sunday looked like the Napoli of last March: worn down, exhausted, and bereft of options. The side couldn't string two passes together, and seemed to enjoy kicking the ball into touch. Edinson Cavani's touch was horrendous. Even the addition of Lorenzo Insigne and Edu Vargas, joining Cavani and Goran Pandev up front, couldn't lift the azzurri.
The question, as ever, is whether Walter Mazzarri will make changes. Mazzarri is known for being, shall we say, welded to his starting XI. Insigne only got a look-in for the first two matches because Pandev was sitting out a ban. Vargas played in Europa because AIK weren't considered top competition. Both players are worth including from the start, but at the very least, Mazzarri should replace Pandev with Insigne. There's been much talk of a Pandev revival, most of it based on one match. Against Catania, the Macedonian looked beyond clueless. It looked as though the neurological pathways in his brain may have been severed. It's a crapshoot which version of Pandev will appear on the pitch, and against Lazio, that's not a gamble you want to take.
But Mazzarri being Mazzarri, it's likely Pandev will start. And, of course, Salvatore Aronica will be on the field. Death, taxes, and all that.