Napoli must hope that victory over Juventus in the final of the Italian Super Cup can act as a springboard for greater success in Serie A.
Rafael Benitez’s side have struggled to hit the same heights as last year, and go into the winter break fourth in the table below Stefano Pilo’s high-flying Lazio.
And with talk of a move for one of either Mario Balotelli or Fernando Torres beginning to circle, fans of the club will be hoping securing silverware for the season already can help spur them on to finish in the Champions League slots by the time the season draws to a close in May.
Despite currently a place adrift of the crucial third spot, Napoli have done well to overcome a difficult start to the season to rise up the league table.
They slumped to a shock defeat against Chievo on the start of the season, and their confidence suffered a further knock when they were dumped out of Europe’s top-tier competition by La Liga side Athletic Bilbao prior to the commencement of the group stages of the tournament.
Udinese also beat them shortly afterwards, with a 3-3 draw at home to Palermo piling the pressure on Benitez and also stirring talk of a surprise appointment in the form of Roberto Mancini, who has since succeeded Walter Mazzarri at Inter Milan.
Since that draw at the end of September they proceeded to win five out of their next seven matches, but a series of lacklustre displays have left them with work to do heading into the New Year.
They replicated the same result as Palermo against Cagliari last month, before failing to overcome Sampdoria with substitute striker Duvan Zapata scoring late to ensure they leave the contest with a valuable point.
A 2-2 draw against Empoli followed but a goalless draw to Filippo Inzaghi’s transitional AC Milan had them heading into the match against Juventus in the cop has severe underdogs.
However a 2-0 win against Parma ensured the month was not winless, and gives them every hope of securing European football when the fixture list begins to pile up in January.
A move for Balotelli could prove to be a masterstroke, with Benitez keen to ease the burden on current goal machine Gonzalo Higuain.
The former Manchester City striker has failed to adjust to life at Anfield since his summer move from AC Milan, and could be sacrificed particularly if Brendan Rodgers gives the green light to a pursuit of Swansea City’s Wilfried Bony.
Torres is another being linked with a move to Naples, but may instead be offered to Atletico Madrid in a move that may see Alessio Cerci return to Italy’s top flight.
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