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Napoli Preview: Heaven or Hell

All in. Rien ne va plus. Tomorrow it's second vs third in Serie A, Napoli vs Roma. The stakes have rarely been this high. And then we look at the big names to step up and decide this clash. Luckily for us, Roma's biggest name, Totti, has been on fire recently. But will he start?

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Roma - Napoli is probably the most important fixture that is left for both the Giallorossi and FC Higuain the Partenopei. It will decide the fate of both teams. Depending on the result, Napoli secures second place or Roma still has a chance to automatically qualify for Europe's money jar next season. A Napoli win means second spot is gone 99% sure. Even worse, third place is suddenly in danger because Inter won their game and is lurking behind our shoulders. Now that would really be a harsh verdict after 38 rounds.

You simply can't underestimate the impact of this match. A Roma win sees the difference with Napoli brought back to a mere 2 points and a head-to-head advantage if both teams end on the same point total. Also, it will give Napoli headaches and more pressure during their last 3 Serie A games. Napoli still need to meet Atalanta, Torino and Frosinone. They won't waste a lot of points in those fixtures so this is our last chance to put some more pressure on them. Basically, it's heaven or hell for Roma and its fans. Like I said, the stakes are high. A draw will only benefit Napoli and Inter. There WILL be a loser and a winner on Monday.

The Maradona Boys lost their last 2 away games and only won one of their five previous trips in Serie A so one might say they don't like travelling that much. Roma haven't lost a Serie A game since Juventus in late January and are unbeaten in the Olimpico since November 11th, a 0-2 loss against Atalanta. But hey, who needs statistics anyway when you support Roma, the most inconsistent side of Italy?

And so we look at the ususal suspects to save their teams for the umpteenth time. The obvious names like Mertens, Insigne, Hamsik for Napoli or Salah, Pjanic and Radja for Roma pop up. Florenzi, SES, Callejon, Ghoulam,,. pick one. But if you talk about timing, now the right time for the heroes and true stars of both clubs, Higuain and Totti, to make their mark. One is Serie A's top scorer, the other is a symbol, icon, legend in Italy and has 3 goals in 2 games. Side note: Totti started as a sub in those 2 games.

Unfortunately for Roma Francesco will once again start on the bench but be sure Spalletti eyes another five star appearance from his captain after seventy-or-so minutes. It's probably the best because even though we all long for a full game of his Royal Tottiness, he can't manage an entire game against this Napoli side. Physically it's gonna be tough, with a high tempo and a lot of running that needs to be done. But look at it from the bright side. That way, Roma has a huge weapon as plan B. Totti has done it twice in a row, he can do it for a third consecutive time as well. It can only open the eyes of the management and benefit the negotiations about his contract extension. Which is a must of course, otherwise it's the worst harakiri you can do as a sports club.

Everyone's fit and ready to go, the only real downside is Higuain's presence. His ban got reduced (normally he would also miss Roma due to suspension for his behaviour a couple of weeks ago) and we at Chiesa don't like the sight of Higuain, Insigne and Mertens wreaking havoc and making a fool out of Rüdiger and Manolas. They're good defenders and have clearly made progress this season, but Napoli's attack is one of Serie A's finest. I don't think we'll see a clean sheet happen so might as well try to score one more than them, no? There's also some interesting duels in midfield like Radja and Pjanic vs Hamsik and Jorginho.

There's nothing left to say, really. Win God damnit! One good sub might be enough to change the outcome and seal this one. And then, as Bren already told us, we can once again say: We have Totti, you don't.

That's the diffence. That has always been the difference.