Forget Juventus’ 3-2 win over AS Roma, Inter Milan vs Napoli is the biggest game of the season so far.
Both sides have endured difficult starts to the season, and both will face off at the San Siro knowing a defeat could prove fatal in their quest to secure Champions League football.
The futures of coaches Walter Mazzarri and Rafael Benitez are also on the line, and the losing manager could face unemployment if the pendulum swings the other way.
Inter started the season steadily enough, but back to back thumpings from Cagliari and Fiorentina have left their European hopes damaged.
Dani Osvaldo started the season impressively following his loan move from Southampton, but his loss of form have left Mazzarri’s side without a reliable talisman.
Contrastingly, Napoli started shambolically with defeats to Chievo and Udinese, but wins over Sassuolo and Torino have given them momentum going into Sunday’s crunch clash.
Premier League signing Michu is still to settle, but with Argentinean goal machine Gonzalo Higuain in their ranks they will have bold hopes of escaping the San Siro with at least a point.
Managers under pressure
Mazzarri only took the reins last year, but after failing to qualify for Europe’s top-tier competition is under pressure from fans who became so used to success under Jose Mourinho four years ago.
The Italian’s squad is sorely lacking in the star quality that once made them the envy of the globe, and inconsistent performances from key signings Osvaldo and Nemanja Vidic have them looking toothless at both ends of the pitch.
Speculation linking former Manchester United manager David Moyes to the job possesses substance, with the Scot expected to be in Milan for the weekend’s blockbuster viewing.
Rafael Benitez guided Napoli to third last term, but after starting sluggishly in the league and being dumped from the Champions League by Athletic Bilbao the Spaniard is now in trouble.
Ex-Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini has been unemployed since leaving Galatasary, and could be the perfect man to transform their season if the Italian giants decide to bring the axe crashing down on Benitez’s head.
A win however could see them surge up the table if results go their way, and the experienced manager may use every shred of tactical nous to come away from the match with their momentum intact.
The match promises to be a classic, with both wanting all three points but unlikely to risk leaving the clash empty handed.
Juventus’ win over Roma was enthralling, but the sheer importance of this game makes it a much-watch for all fans of Italian football.
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