Another week, another enthralling round of Serie A fixtures beckons for calcio fans, none more intriguing and jam packed with storylines than Napoli vs Sampdoria at the San Paolo.
Carlo Ancelotti’s Partenopei look to rebound after bowing out of the Coppa Italia midweek at the hands of Krzysztof Piatek and Milan, while Marco Giampaolo’s Samp look to climb closer to 4th place in the league table.
With all of this in mind, here is what you should be watching for in Napoli vs Sampdoria on Saturday:
Kalidou Koulibaly vs Omar Colley: Two central defenders. Two former Genk players. With Koulibaly already a crystallized, world class player having foreign clubs circling like sharks for his expensive signature, Colley could raise his own stock with a strong outing. Assuming Giampaolo gives him the starting nod like Gazzetta dello Sport projects, keep an eye on the Gambian who, at 26, could be ready to bloom.
Kevin Malcuit giving Ancelotti selection headaches: The French international arrived over from Lille in the summer to deputize Elseid Hysaj. But with the Albanian’s slip in form and injury, Malcuit‘s since answered the call and is lending more than just a helping hand. Look for for the 27-year old to maintain his form and give Ancelotti a healthy, but difficult, selection problem moving forward.
Marco Sau hopeful in making Samp debut: After seven years in Sardegna with Cagliari, the veteran Italian joined the Blucerchiati on Deadline Day. Wealthy in top flight experience, Sau’s arrival is a welcomed one for a young side hellbent on shocking all of Europe with a Europa League berth, or better yet, a dream UEFA Champions League qualification.
Emil Audero vs Alex Meret: Italy has no shortage of goalkeeping talent at the moment. Milan’s Gianluigi Donnarumma rightfully receives most of the plaudits and attention for his massive rise, but the overall talent and upside of Audero and Meret cannot be discredited. Audero, an Indonesian-born Italian, is on loan from Juventus and in a matter of six months, has solidified starting status for Samp. Meret made a massive €35m switch last summer from Udinese and despite injuries, looks to be the real deal and solution in goal Napoli have longed for. A goalkeeping exhibition could be on way in Naples.
Redemption on the line for Napoli: The last encounter between these two sides dates back to September 2nd of this season, a 3-0 beating delivered by Samp thanks to a first-half brace from Gregoire Defrel. Though a vastly improved outfit on the road from 2017-18, the Genoese club have lost 8 of their previous 10 meetings with the Azzurri in all competitions. A win by Samp inside the daunting San Paolo would not only go a long way in their quest for European Football next season, but send a warning shot to the rest of the pack chasing UCL.
Fabio Quagliarella out to make Serie A history against former club: A regular Puskas award contender, consummate professional, Azzurri call-up and captain, Quagliarella has done more than defy Father Time; he has conquered it, slaying it with a sling in the form of goals. The newly turned 36-year old sits alone at the top of Serie A’s capocannoniere race with 16 goals, ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo. Finding the back of the net every 108 minutes, Quagliarella has scored in 11 consecutive Serie A matches and with a goal on Saturday, will break Gabriel Batistuta’s historic 25-year record. Emotions will be running high at the San Paolo for hometown kid Quagliarella who, with a 17th goal of the season, could etch his name in football lore against a club he holds near and dear to his heart.
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