Cagliari vs. Napoli, Preview: Can Napoli take advantage without Cavani?

Claudio Villa

Napoli will be without their talismanic forward Edinson Cavani for this trip to Sardinia. Considering the form Cagliari are in, the partenopei may fall even further from the Champions League positions.

The pressure's on for Napoli: Juventus have finally started to slip, losing their second game of the season to AC Milan this weekend, and collecting just four points from their last three matches. Inter Milan managed just one point from their last two, needing an own goal from Cagliari last week to even get a draw. Fiorentina have moved in to second following a hard-earned draw with Torino. But a win in Sardinia could see the partenopei overtake their rivals and move back into second -- assuming Inter falters against Parma, of course.

But put pressure on Napoli and it's just as likely their house will tumble down as you'll produce a diamond. Without Edinson Cavani this week, it'll be up to Marek Hamsik and Lorenzo Insigne to score the goals. Hamsik's performance in the draw with Milan last week was tepid and uninspiring, while Insigne is still inconsistent.

In other words, this is the time for Cagliari to shine. They're flourishing under the tutelage of Ivo Pulga and Diego Lopez, and three points would see them move even with Catania in seventh -- can you imagine, after the start they had to the season! But they're unbeaten in their last two and have only lost once in the last seven, away to Fiorentina.

The Sardinians will look again to Marco Sau, who scored the brace against Inter last week. However, they'll be waiting to hear about the fitness of Mauricio Pinilla, whose effort created Sau's second, and Nene, who terrorized the Inter defense until forced to come off injured in the 37th minute.

Cagliari Injuries and Suspensions

Nene, Mauricio Pinilla (in doubt); Davide Astori (suspended)

Did Astori get suspended for committing the grave sin of putting the ball into the back of his own net?

Napoli Injuries and Suspensions

Goran Pandev (injured); Edinson Cavani (suspended)

So...Walter Mazzarri will audition individuals from the stands to fill in as strikers? Seems more likely than his playing Edu Vargas in a Serie A match.

Match date / time: Monday, November 26 at 7 p.m. local, 1 p.m. ET

Venue: Stadio IS Arenas, Quartu Sant'Elena

TV: Sky Calcio 2, BeIN Sport and BeIN Sport en Español, ESPN UK, RAI Internazionale

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