Napoli have Lorenzo Insigne back in what should be an emotional reunion with Sampdoria striker Fabio Quagliarella, but Duvan Zapata isn’t fit to start.
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The Serie A leaders need a victory to be sure of their status and perhaps even increase the gap, seeing as second-place Juventus host Roma in fourth this evening.
Arkadiusz Milik and Faouzi Ghoulam are long-term absentees, but Insigne returns from a groin injury to complete the trident with Dries Mertens and Jose Callejon.
Marek Hamsik equalled Diego Armando Maradona’s all-time record of 115 Napoli goals and hopes he can add to that tally.
It’s bound to be an emotional game at the Stadio San Paolo, because this is the first visit from hometown boy Quagliarella since he revealed why he left Napoli.
Treated as a traitor for leaving his beloved Azzurri in 2010, the Italy international only recently confessed he had been forced to flee the city by a stalker nightmare.
The fans apologised for misreading the situation and publicly invited him to return to Napoli, and it’s an idea that could still come to fruition.
It was also meant to be a comeback for Duvan Zapata, who was on the Napoli books for several years, but the Colombia international is suffering from an injury and won’t be risked.
Instead, Gianluca Caprari starts with Gaston Ramirez and Lucas Torreira in support, but Karol Linetty and Ricky Alvarez haven’t made the trip.
Sampdoria have not beaten Napoli since a 1-0 home result in May 2010, managing only three draws from 12 meetings. Their most recent victory at the San Paolo was 2-0 in April 1998, followed by four draws and eight defeats between Serie A and B.
Coaches Maurizio Sarri and Marco Giampaolo share a football philosophy and it was Giampaolo who replaced Sarri on the Empoli bench.
Napoli: Reina; Hysaj, Koulibaly, Albiol, Mario Rui; Allan, Jorginho, Hamsik; Callejon, Mertens, Insigne
Sampdoria: Viviano; Bereszynski, Silvestre, Ferrari, Strinic; Barreto, Torreira, Praet; Ramirez; Quagliarella, Caprari