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Napoli: A Fairy Tale Mystique.

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Napoli v Roma

A derby that isn't really a derby; a mountain that isn't really a mountain; an aura that is really just that.

Let's dispel the notion that the San Paolo is a 'fortress':

Inter, Roma, Milan, Palermo, Genoa and Sampdoria have all dropped fewer points at home; Napoli have dropped the same number of points as Bari & Udinese - the same Udinese currently enjoying 16th place. In fact, for all the wondrous things Mazzarri has done success they've won by simply booting Donadoni from town, they've won only three of their last seven home games - against the behemoths Bari, Chievo & Udinese. They haven't lost, but it's not like they're mowing down everyone - or anyone - in their path, either. That's pretty hard to do when you've scored one goal - in the midst of a 3-1 loss - in the last month.

That's not to say Roma's going to continue its rampant domestic form with ease or should even expect to walk away with a win - I expect a draw and believe they can win if Julio Sergio plays - but it's hardly the trek up Everest it's been made out to be. The second half of Panathinaikos zapped a few legs, so expect Menez & Motta to start, and both ties zapped some confidence, so expect humility as well. And perhaps that's it: while the mystique of San Paolo dominance - a draw is closer to a loss, remember - is a bit of a fairy tale, Roma's shield of invincibility is just that as well. Perhaps yet another silver lining.

This is another chance for Roma. They've built this domestic rise on the ability to win results regardless of opponent, location, personnel, tactics, fatigue, performance, reason or the color of Mexes' hair. Napoli's not just another team, which is exactly what makes this just another chance.

Squad

Andreolli
Baptista
Bertagnoli
Brighi
Burdisso
Cassetti
Cerci
De Rossi
Faty
Juan
Lobont
Marangon
Menez
Mexes
Motta
Perrotta
Riise
Taddei
Tonetto
Vucinic

XI

Julio Sergio
Motta, Burdisso, Juan, Riise
Taddei, Brighi, DDR, Perrotta
Menez
Vucinic.


Game:
1500 CET; 0900 EST.