Napoli vs. Livorno, preview: Partenopei should bounce back from Champions League bruising

Valerio Pennicino

Rafael Benítez suffered his first competitive defeat as Napoli coach in midweek, though his team should get back to winning ways against Livorno on Sunday.

Napoli were soundly beaten away at the Emirates Stadium on Tuesday, where Arsenal continued their impressive form and tore their way through the partenopei's shaky back line for a 2-0 win. It was a deserved three points for the Gunners, and Rafael Benítez's honeymoon period at the Stadio San Paolo has come to a definite conclusion.

More from our team blogs: Napoli blog The Siren's Song

However, even with Miguel Britos' rather unorthodox approach to defending, Napoli should manage to get back to winning ways in Serie A this weekend, where they host newly-promoted Livorno. The partenopei have won every one of their meetings with their Tuscan visitors since 2004, when both sides were in Serie B.

Having said that, this game isn't exactly a foregone conclusion -- the amaranto are currently sitting in the top half of the table after an impressive start to the campaign, and Napoli have already failed to overcome a promoted side this season, drawing 1-1 against Sassuolo last month.

Benítez will be unable to select Christian Maggio again, while Raúl Albiol and his former Real Madrid teammate Gonzalo Higuaín are both facing late fitness tests to determine their availability. Livorno have young Argentine playmaker Rubén Botta and midfield veteran Marco Biagianti out through injury, though otherwise should have a full-strength team to choose from.

Napoli injuries and suspensions

Out: Christian Maggio (injured). In doubt: Raúl Albiol, Gonzalo Higuaín.

Livorno injuries and suspensions

Out: Rubén Botta, Marco Biagianti (injured). In doubt: None.

Projected lineups

Napoli: Pepe Reina; Pablo Armero, Miguel Britos, Paolo Cannavaro, Juan Zúñiga; Valon Behrami, Blerim Džemaili; Dries Mertens, Marek Hamšík, José Callejón; Gonzalo Higuaín

Livorno: Francesco Bardi; Federico Ceccherini, Rinaudo, Andrea Coda; Alessandro Lambrughi, Alfred Duncan, Emerson Ramos Borges, Andrea Luci; Pasquale Schiattarella; Leandro Greco; Paulinho Betanin

Match Date/Time: Sunday, 3 p.m. local, 9 a.m. ET

Venue: Stadio San Paolo, Naples, Italy

TV: beIN Sport USA (U.S. - English), beIN Sport en Español (U.S. - Spanish), RAI Internazionale (U.S. and Canada - Italian), ESPN UK / HD (U.K.), Sky Calcio 1 (Italy)

Online: beIN Sport Play (U.S.).

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