It has been an emotional 12 months for Napoli supporters, as an unbelievable 91 points last campaign saw them fall just short of Juventus. Losing manager Maurizio Sarri and star midfielder Jorginho to Chelsea, I Partenopei have some serious rebuilding to do.  

Parma have face a similarly emotional year, having finally fought their way back into the top flight of Italian football after a four year absence. 

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Classic Encounter


Napoli 4-2 Parma (Serie A, February 1991)

Promoted from Serie B the season prior, Parma travelled to Naples knowing that they'd have to take on Italy's reigning champions - with one special talent in particular holding their gaze. Having helped Napoli to UEFA Cup and Serie A glory a few seasons earlier, Diego Armando Maradona was considered to be the undisputed best player in the world.

'D10S' had proven himself a legend in the country's southern quarters, as he dragged Napoli to win their first ever domestic title in 1986/87. Repeating the near impossible feat only three years later, Parma knew they were in for a tough day at the office. 

While a surprise package in Sampdoria would go on to win Serie A, this was the Argentine at his mesmeric best. Two penalties added to his goal scoring account, but it was the all round play that excited those on the terraces. His acrobatic assist for Mario Osio to close out the game was a standout, as Maradona's individual brilliance continued to stupefy onlookers. 

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Key Battle


Lorenzo Insigne vs. Bruno Alves


Napoli's diminutive maestro is set to go up against the 36-year-old centre back on Wednesday night, and you can't help but feel he'll have a yard or two of pace on him.

A special talent, the majestic dribbling ability of Insigne is a joy to behold. Wearing the badge on his chest with pride, Lorenzo's footballing origins start a mere 15 miles from the Stadio San Paolo.

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Bruno Alves is in the twilight years of his career, and last season's less than stellar spell with Glasgow Rangers proved that he's not quite the player he used to be. 

However, with a near 100 Portugal caps to his name, the physical force may have Insigne writhing around on the turf a few times in this clash. Brains vs. brawn, the influence of these two will no doubt have a big say on this match's final outcome. 

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Team News


The injury pile up remains the same for Carlo Ancelotti, as his side are without a few key men yet again. New goalkeeper Alex Meret and Faouzi Ghoulam still have a way to go before returning, with Amin Younes and former Spurs defender Vlad Chiriches also out for the long haul.

The Italian's hardest decision is to be formation. His likely choices are between sticking with the 4-4-2 that served him so well at Torino, or reverting to type with 4-3-3. 

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Up against Juventus this weekend, it's possible that some players are rested. Kalidou Koulibaly, Elseid Hysaj, Dries Mertens and Simone Verdi could all drop out for this one as squad depth is tested.        

Parma come into this clash with a few problems of their own. Amongst others, Roberto D’Aversa will have to deal with the absence of speedster Jonathan Biabiany and lumbago troubled Jacopo Dezi.    

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Potential Napoli Lineup (4-4-2): Ospina; Macluit, Albiol, Maksimovic, Mario Rui; Callejon, Hamsik, Zielinski, Verdi; Milik, Insigne.  


Potential Parma Lineup (4-5-1) : Sepe; Gazzola, Bruno Alves, Gagliolo, Gobbi; Gervinho Rigoni, Stulac, Barilla, Di Gaudio; Inglese.

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Prediction

A respectable 2-1 defeat to Juventus shows that this Parma side are no pushovers. Having already taken the scalp of behemoth Internazionale, Crociati might bring with them a confidence when visiting the Stadio San Paolo. 

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However, with Napoli being seemingly unbeatable at home, it's probable they'll find a way through thanks to Insigne or Arkadiusz Milik. Ancelotti's formation change last weekend seemed to pay dividends, and he's likely to stick with two up top for this one. 


Prediction: Napoli 3-1 Parma