We're only in Round 11 but already this match against Torino is a must-win for Napoli. After their 1-0 midweek loss to Atalanta, the partenopei are six points out of first, and they can't count on Juventus slipping. All Napoli can do is fight their own battles and pray that somewhere, somehow, Juve lose points.
Winning the war would be easier if Edinson Cavani were healthy. The striker pulled out of training last weekend and has missed the last two matches -- and his absence is clearly felt. For all the praise heaped on both Goran Pandev and Lorenzo Insigne recently, neither can make up for the loss of the Uruguayan. Insigne is too young and, as seen against Chievo Verona, both too trigger-happy and too reluctant to pass the ball. Pandev, despite talk of his "revitalization" in Naples, has netted just twice and has often been wasteful in front of goal. If Cavani sits out, the pressure will be on Marek Hamsik to deliver rather than these two.
Torino are sitting safely in 13th, which is certainly good enough for a freshly promoted side...but "safe" truly is the word to describe this season's granata. Alongside Palermo, they lead the league in draws, with five from ten matches. They're also rather shy about goal-scoring: remove their 5-1 hammering of Atalanta and Torino have scored just six goals in their other nine matches -- that's equal with Pescara, who don't even have the money to buy a goal in Italy.
But Torino do well enough on defense, conceding just nine thus far, on par with Inter Milan. They've let in four of those since Angelo Ogbonna's been injured, so if he manages to pass a fitness test before the match, his return would be a big boost for the visitors. If not, expect to see Guillermo Rodríguez continue to fill in at center back. He'll see plenty of action, as it's almost certain this will play out like the Chievo match, with Napoli constantly on the attack and Torino soaking up the pressure.
Napoli Injuries and Suspensions
Edinson Cavani (in doubt)
Torino Injuries and Suspensions
Sergiu Suciu (injured); Angelo Ogbonna (in doubt)
Match Date/Time: Sunday, October 4 at 3 p.m. local, 9 a.m. ET
Venue: Stadio San Paolo, Naples
TV: Sky Calcio 1 (Italy); BeIN Sport (USA); ERT World -- apparently the Greeks have a thing for either Napoli or Torino