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Steve Mitchell On December - 6 - 2010

Napoli Host Palermo On A Magnificent Monday At The San Paolo

Napoli v Palermo will be a game of beautiful football” was the assessment of Napoli coach Walter Mazzarri as he prepares to welcome Delio Rossi’s Palermo side to the Stadio San Paolo for a Serie A blockbuster. It is a fixture that will have fans of Serie A salivating at the prospect of a classic encounter between two sides currently playing some of the most attractive football in the peninsula and who, at this current time, harbour hopes of being in the title shake up next  May.

It ‘s fourth against fifth, it’s Mazzarri’s 3-4-2-1 v Rossi’s 4-3-2-1, it’s Edinson Cavani and Ezequiel Lavezzi v Fabrizio Miccoli and Javier Pastore, it’s Marik Hamsik v Josip Ilicic. Napoli head into the game off the back of a surprising 3-1 defeat to Udinese in week 14 of the championship and a hard fought 3-3 draw against Utrecht in the Europa League last Thursday. Palermo arrive in Campania after a crushing 3-1 victory over Roma in Sicily in Serie A, followed by a 2-2 draw against Sparta Prague in the Europa League, a result which marked the end of European competition for this season for Delio Rossi’s men.

Cavani will have extra incentive on Monday evening as he comes face to face with his former club for the first time since leaving Sicily in the summer. Palermo defenders Federico Balzaretti, Cesare Bovo and Mattia Cassani will need no introduction to a striker on top of his game right now, Cavani’s devastating treble against Utrecht last week a true testament to his outstanding ability. His partner in crime, Ezequiel Lavezzi, is also having an outstanding season. Playing just behind the Uruguayan hit-man, he, alongside Slovakian international Marik Hamsik, provide the links from the midfield to the attack and when it all comes together, the results can be devastating.

The visitors can also boast some exceptional firepower and one of the best midfield players in world football at the moment. Fabrizio Miccoli, the 31-year-old jack in a box goalscorer has finally shook off the injury that kept him out of much of the opening months of the season. His performance in week 14 against Roma was scintillating and the man who was born in Lecce, would like nothing better than putting the Neapolitans to the sword on Monday evening.

Javier Pastore is a wanted man at the moment, the big boys of European football are circling and reports from the peninsula suggest that Palermo President Maurizio Zamparini will have to offload his prime asset next summer. But for now, the islanders are enjoying witnessing the sublime skills of this Argentinean midfield genius as he orchestrates everything that is good about his team’s play. The 21-year-old has already waded in with seven league goals this season, just two behind current capocannoniere - Edinson Cavani.

So the scene is set for a titanic tussle in the crackling atmosphere of the Stadio San Paolo, where around 50 thousand spectators are expected. Should one team come out on top, then surely the momentum will be with them going into the last two games before the Christmas recess and a psychological blow will have been well and truly struck against one of their competitors for Serie A glory.

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