NEWS
Saturday January 7 2017
Line-ups: Napoli-Sampdoria

Napoli start 2017 against Sampdoria with Dries Mertens leading the attack, Leonardo Pavoletti on the bench and Lorenzo Tonelli’s debut.

It kicks off at the Stadio San Paolo at 19.45 GMT, follow the build-up and action on the Liveblog.

The Partenopei are the favourites for neutral Serie A viewers, ending 2016 with some spectacular thrillers including a 5-3 win over Torino and 3-3 draw at Fiorentina.

It is extremely cold in Naples this evening, believed to be around -3 degrees Celsius, so the choice of studs could be crucial on this turf.

Maurizio Sarri is forced to reshuffle his defence, as Raul Albiol is suspended, Kalidou Koulibaly, Faouzi Ghoulam and Omar El Kaddouri on Africa Cup of Nations duty.

Vlad Chiriches is not 100 per cent fit either, so ex-Empoli defender Tonelli is given his debut in the Napoli jersey, six months after completing the transfer.

Arkadiusz Milik remains on the treatment table and Manolo Gabbiadini is considering his options, including Wolfsburg, Stoke City, West Bromwich Albion and Everton.

Mertens is undroppable at the moment with eight goals in three games, relishing the False 9 role flanked by Lorenzo Insigne and Jose Callejon.

There are some surprises in midfield, where Allan and Jorginho are preferred to Piotr Zielinski and Amadou Diawara.

Sampdoria have struggled on their travels compared to at Marassi, but want to start the new year on a high.

Jacopo Sala, Emiliano Viviano and Carlos Carbonero are still unavailable, while Antonio Cassano has been frozen out all season.

It is a return to the San Paolo for Fabio Quagliarella, who is from the Naples area and had a brief spell at his hometown club.

Luis Muriel is not ruled fit to start due to a muscular problem, so Patrik Schick partners Quagliarella with Ricky Alvarez preferred to Bruno Fernandes.

There should be plenty of entertainment, because the last five meetings between these clubs provided a total 25 goals.

Samp came away with five draws from 12 attempts since their last victory here in 1997-98.

Napoli are unbeaten in Serie A since October 29 against Juventus, putting together four wins and three draws.

Napoli: Reina; Hysaj, Chiriches, Tonelli, Strinic; Allan, Jorginho, Hamsik; Callejon, Mertens, L Insigne

Napoli bench: Rafael, Sepe, Giaccherini, Maggio, Maksimovic, Zielinski, Gabbiadini, Rog, Pavoletti, Diawara, R Insigne, Lasicki

Sampdoria: Puggioni; Regini, Skriniar, Silvestre, Pereira; Praet, Torreira, Barreto; Alvarez; Schick, Quagliarella

Sampdoria bench: Krapikas, Tozzo, Dodo, Muriel, Fernandes, Linetty, Palombo, Pavlovic, Cigarini, Djuricic, Bereszynski, Budimir