The good ship SSC Napoli has hit the skids and there are rumblings the squad may entertain a formation switch to a 4-3-3 in advance of its crucial Matchday 5 tilt against Champions League finalist Borussia Dortmund on Tuesday. Rafa Benitez’s men took it on the chin on Saturday losing to 1-0 to Parma at the San Paolo in their most listless match since the team’s dismal display in London against the Gunners.
While a defeat in England playing against the Premier League leaders can be excused as a one-off, dropping a match at home against Parma on the heels of a 3-0 drubbing in Torino against Juventus before the international break may be a signal changes are needed sooner rather than later.
Complicating matters further for the Azzurri is their captain and talisman, Marek Hamsik, will not play due to foot injury. Hamsik came on in the second half against Parma but only lasted eight minutes before reinjuring himself. The Slovakian midfielder is utilized just behind striker Gonzalo Higuain in Napoli’s 4-2-3-1 formation employed by coach Rafa Benitez. Napoli sent the most likely Hamsik replacement, Omaar El Kaddouri, out on loan to Torino at the start of the season.
Omar El Kaddouri netted his first Serie A brace this Sunday in the Granata’s 4-1 victory against Catania. Swiss MF Blerim Dzemaili and Macedonian Goran Pandev are the most likely substitutes for Hamsik but neither has the requisite skill set to make the defense-splitting pass that is the signature of Hamsik’s play. Dzemaili can join fellow Swiss internationals Gokhan Inler and Valon Behrami in the midfield and the Partenopei may elect to push Lorenzo Insigne and Dries Mertens up to join Higuain as the attacking trident.
Napoli know only a draw is needed to secure advancement to the knockout rounds. Dortmund have proven to be quite the force, especially at home, but the team is showing signs of wear dropping their last three contests in all competitions including a key 3-0 crushing defeat at home to Bayern Munich this weekend.
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