After the last-minute draw with Bologna last week, Napoli cannot allow themselves another misstep. While Napoli are the clear favorites, Chievo have been known to create problems for the partenopei the last few years. But with Marek Hamšík back, it's hard to imagine Napoli will stumble again.
Napoli also welcome back goalkeeper Pepe Reina, although he's likely to be on the bench, with the no-longer-shaky Rafael starting once more. Federico Fernández is suspended, so it will be up to Miguel Britos and Raúl Albiol to stop the Flying Donkeys from troubling the Brazilian.
Not that it's likely the visitors will make much of an effort to attack. Chievo will do what Chievo does best - close down, try not to concede and maybe, possibly have a quick counter or two that threatens Napoli's goal. Eugenio Corini sets his team out in a 3-5-2 that is actually closer to a 5-3-2 in practice, with the three midfielders decidedly defensively oriented.
But Rafa Benítez finally has his best attackers available. Although it's likely Dries Mertens will rest this one, Lorenzo Insigne is showing improvement (and finally scoring) and will most likely start alongside Hamšík and José Callejón, with Gonzalo Higuaín up top. Jorginho, recently brought in from Hellas Verona, is likely to start on the bench rather than alongside Gokhan Inler as the defensife midfield duo. But if Rafa is wise he may send out the newcomer, as in Jorginho Napoli has a player who can speed up the distribution of the ball, which in games against a team that will play the catenaccio can be very helpful.
While Corini's return to Chievo at first looked like it would be just the boost the Flying Donkeys needed, the side are now struggling once more. They've scored just three goals in five matches, remaining winless throughout, and are even on points with sides in the relegation zone. They're a bogey side for Napoli, but it's still hard to imagine them leaving the San Paolo with any points.
Napoli injuries and suspensions:
Chievo Verona injuries and suspensions:
Adrián Calello (injured)
Projected line ups:
Napoli (4-2-3-1): Rafael; Christian Maggio, Miguel Britos, Raúl Albiol, Anthony, Revelliere; Gokhan Inler, Jorginho; José Callejón, Marek Hamšík, Lorenzo Insigne; Gonzalo Higuain
Match date/time: Saturday, January 25, 6 p.m. local, 12 p.m. ET
Venue: Stadio San Paolo, Naples, Italy
TV: beIN Sport USA, RAI Internazionale (USA); Premium Calcio, Sky Supercalcio HD, Sky Calcio 1 (Italy)
Online: beIN Sport Play (USA and Canada)