This latest edition of Derby del Sole between AS Roma and Napoli features two teams in need of points as the calender prepares to turn again. There's plenty on the line at the Stadio San Paolo and it should be a fantastic match for supporters and neutrals alike. We'll have to see if the Napoli fans can create more seismic activity in support of their beloved partenopei.
Despite a brave draw with league leader Juventus last week, the Giallorossi are winless since their November 20th victory over Lecce and are desperate to avoid falling further down the table. The task of defeating Napoli won't be made any easier with Miralem Pjanic out serving a yellow card suspension and Nicolas Burdisso, Simon Kjaer and Marco Cassetti all out with injuries. Daniele De Rossi looked strong in his traditional central defense place against The Old Lady, so he'll likely remain in the center of Roma's defense alongside Gabriel Heinze.
For Napoli, Walter Mazzarri should have a full roster at his disposal. With their Champions League adventure on break until February, the partenopei can turn their focus completely on the league where they've struggled at times to get results against teams below them in the table. There's no doubt Napoli have the offensive weapons to threaten Roma, but the game will likely come down to which partenopei side shows up. As always the likes of Edinson Cavani, Ezequiel Lavezzi and Marek Hamsik will be key to Napoli's success.
Despite the up and down league form from both clubs, the pressure in this match is firmly on Roma and more specifically manager Luis Enrique who's already be subject to rumblings of discontent from supporters. Enrique's continuing tactical experiments aren't likely to be tolerated by fans unless the results start to turn around for the club.
Napoli vs. AS Roma
Game Date/Time: Sunday, Dec. 18, 2:30 p.m. ET, 8:30 p.m. local
Venue: Stadio San Paolo, Naples, Italy
TV: Fox Soccer Channel (US), ESPN (UK)