Pescara vs. Napoli, Preview: Napoli look to sink Delfini in quest for second

Giuseppe Bellini

After a dramatic late victory over Cagliari and Milan's loss to Juventus last week, Napoli are now seven points clear of the Rossoneri, a victory here would go a long way to securing a Champions League group spot for next season. On the other hand, Pescara are hanging on to their Serie A status by a thread and a defeat would all but condemn them back to Serie B.

The Dolphins of Pescara are set to be sunk back down to Serie B next season, sitting rock bottom of the table eight points from safety and with a goal difference more than 20 worse than any other Serie A side. It really has been a season to forget after being promoted in such magnificent style last season. They are currently on a run of 14 matches without a win, their last one coming over Fiorentina on the 6th of January and during that time they have only picked up two points. For any optimists out there, the plus side is that one of those points was picked up against Roma just last week with a surprise 1-1 draw at the stadio Olimpico, the Delfini even leading for a whole 37minutes before Mattia Destro managed to peg them back. An escape for Pescara looks unlikely and with the form of Siena and Palermo above them, only an unprecedented run of seven straight victories will probably do.

After suffering a bit of a rough patch in February and March and going an entire month without a victory, Napoli have come back on song and are unbeaten in their last five. With the form of AC Milan, there was a distinct danger that the Partenopei would be overtaken by the charging Rossoneri and have to go through the qualifying rounds for the Champions League next season however Napoli's upturn in form coupled with Milan running into the rock that is Juventus. Napoli now have a seven point gap over third place and barring a complete meltdown, should cement their place in the Champions League groups next season with a relatively straightforward run-in. That's not to say it's been straightforward up to here - their victory over Cagliari last weekend only came after Lorenzo Insigne's winner four minutes into added time and two weeks prior to that, three goals in the last ten minutes led them to a 5-3 away win in a crazy encounter with Torino so whilst on paper their position looks secure, any Napoli fan will tell you that things are never that simple at the Stadio San Paolo.

Not helping Pescara is a relatively long injury list, key men Vladimir Weiss and Juan Quintero are amongst the players out whilst Emmanuel Cascione is a doubt after picking up a training ground knock. Napoli will be hamstrung by the absence of Serie A capocannoniere Edinson Cavani, suspended for yellow card accumulation whilst Valon Behrami is absent for the same reason.

Pescara injuries and suspensions

Out: Manuele Blasi, Gaetano D'agostino, Per Kroldrup, Juan Quintero, Vladimir Weiss, Lucas Chiaretti (injured). In doubt: Emmanuel Cascione, Luciano Zauri, Antonio Bocchetti

Napoli injuries and suspensions

Out: Leandro Rinaudo (injured); Edinson Cavani, Valon Behrami (suspended)

Match date/time: Saturday 27th April 2013, 20:45 local, 14:45 E.T.

Venue: Stadio Adriatico, Pescara

TV: Sky Calcio 1, Premium Calcio (Italy), RAI Internazionale (USA), ESPN UK/HD (UK)

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