Sassuolo vs Napoli: Preview and TV schedule

Claudio Villa

Napoli may have secured a place in the Coppa Italia final, but their attention now turns back to Serie A and a trip to face struggling Sassuolo.

You would think that the side with the second best attacking record would have no problem finding the net against the league's leakiest defence?

However, Sassuolo have already held Napoli once this season. The Neroverdi shocked Serie A when they picked up their first point of the season with a battling 1-1 draw at the San Paolo. With Napoli occupying the final Champions League place ahead of their Coppa Italia opponents Fiorentina, Rafa Benitez knows his side can't afford anymore dropped points against the side currently sitting second from bottom.

Sassuolo have struggled to replicate the form which saw them beat AC Milan 4-3 five rounds ago. Despite a managerial change and shuffling their playing pack in the January transfer window, results thus far haven't been forthcoming for the Serie B champions, who have lost their last four league games. Alberto Malesani has oversaw two slender defeats since replacing Eusebio Di Francesco in the dugout, but knows he must produce results soon to avoid a swift return to Italy's second tier.

Napoli lost twice in quick succession at the beginning of the month in league and cup, prompting whispers of doubt around Benitez's squad rotation policy. The Partenopei got over their domestic wobble of three games without a victory last weekend with a 3-1 win over AC Milan. Any theories of that being a one off were squashed in midweek, as Napoli brushed aside AS Roma 3-0  to overturn a 3-2 cup deficit in front of former crowd favourite Diego Maradona.

One player who will need no motivation for this clash is Paolo Cannavaro. The ex-Napoli captain was largely frozen out during Benitez's reign and made the switch to Sassuolo at the end of the January transfer window. Now captain of the Neroverdi, Cannavaro will briefly forget eight years of service at the San Paolo, as he battles to win three points for his new side.

Francesco Acerbi continues to battle testicular cancer, but the Sassuolo defender has resumed training whilst undergoing chemotherapy to maintain his fitness. Emanuele Terranova Francesco Magnanelli and Davide Biondini also miss out for the hosts with injuries, while Aleandro Rosi is suspended.

Napoli's Jorginho, Gokhan Inler and Jose Callejon all miss the game through suspension, so Benitez's hand is forced in terms of squad rotation. Valon Behrami, Blerim Dzemaili and Lorenzo Insigne are expected to replace the trio. Juan Zuniga and Giandomenico Mesto remain sidelined for the visitors.

Sassuolo injuries and suspensions

Out: Francesco Acerbi, Emanuele Terranova, Francesco Magnanelli, Davide Biondini (injured) Aleandro Rosi (suspended)

Napoli injuries and suspensions

Out: Juan Zuniga, Giandomenico Mesto (injured) Jorginho, Gokhan Inler, Jose Callejon (suspended)

Projected lineups

Sassuolo: (3-5-2) Pegolo; Mendes, Cannavaro, Ariaudo; Gazzola, Marrone, Chibsah, Brighi, Longhi; Berardi, Floro Flores

Napoli: (4-2-3-1) Reina; Maggio, Fernandez, Albiol, Ghoulah; Behrami, Dzemaili; Mertens, Hamsik, Insigne; Higuain.

Match Date/Time: Sunday 16th February, 3:00 p.m. local, 9:00 a.m. ET

Venue: Stadio Citta del Tricolore, Reggio Emilia, Italy

TV: Premium Calcio 2, Sky Calcio 2, Sky Sport 1 HD Italia (Italy) beIN Sports Play, beIN Sports en Espanol (U.S.)

Online: Bet365, bwin, Unibet

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