Napoli vs. Genoa, preview: An important game at both ends of the table

Valerio Pennicino

Napoli will be hoping to give themselves some breathing space in second place on Sunday evening, with Genoa still fighting for Serie A survival.

Having to overcome a nine point gap to league leaders Juventus, Napoli's title dreams are pretty much over. As wonderful a happening of nature they may be, unfortunately Blerim Džemaili hat-tricks are hard to come by, lurking in the murky depths of industrial Turin. Besides, it now seems no amount of them will be enough for Napoli to win Scudetto.

Instead, Džei will be trying to secure his side second place after scoring three times in the Neapolitans' 5-3 win over Torino last weekend. Walter Mazzarri's men are currently only a couple of points clear of third place team AC Milan, who have a tough game against Fiorentina this weekend, giving the partenopei a great chance of giving themselves a more comfortable buffer above the rossoneri.

Their opponents, Genoa, have more serious problems near the bottom of the table, having not won in their last five games. Their relatively new coach Davide Ballardini looked like he'd restored some grifone pride, though unfortunately it's packed up and flown south to Siena, en route to Palermo. The two sides directly below Genoa in the table have both picked up points recently, and are only one and three points behind the rossoblu respectively.

They're going to be without defenders Cesare Bovo and Damiano Ferronetti through injury, while their regular centre-back Thomas Manfredini compounds their defensive woes with a one match suspension. Marco Rossi has spent more time in the gym than out on the practice pitch recently, though regretfully that's been forced by injury rather than a result of the captain's vanity. He's doubtful.

Happily Napoli have no such problems. A full-strength team means they ought to be beating a Genoa side which hasn't won away at the Stadio San Paolo since 2009 -- and that was when the grifone had Thiago Motta, Diego Milito and a whole host of players who would unfortunately now laugh at the thought of playing in rossoblu.

Napoli Injuries and Suspensions

None

Genoa Injuries and Suspensions

Out: Cesare Bovo, Damiano Ferronetti (injured); Thomas Manfredini (suspended) In doubt: Marco Rossi

Match Date/Time: Sunday 7th April 2013 8:45 p.m. local, 2:45 p.m. E.T.

Venue: Stadio San Paolo, Naples, Italy

TV: Sky Calcio 2 (Italy) RAI Internazionale, beIN SPORT (U.S.) ESPN UK / HD (U.K.)

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