We've batted a few questions back and forth with Conor Dowley, who, despite being a Napoli fan, is a pretty good dude and helps us out a whole lot on the technical side of things. Here is the other half of our chat over on the Siren's Song.
Viola Nation: How confident are yall that you can overtake Juventus, and how much do yall need this one after four straight matches without a win?
Conor Dowley: Honestly... I don't know. I'd love to be optimistic about things, but Napoli have taken some body-blow results lately and couldn't take their chance to re-take first place last week when it was handed to them on a silver platter. The table is still incredibly close, obviously, but as long as their momentum is going the wrong way, Napoli are going to have a tough time closing that gap.
As for facing Fiorentina -- Napoli really, really need the win in this match just to stop the slide. It doesn't have to be pretty, it just needs to end in three points to get the team some confidence back.
VN: What's at the root of the sudden mini-skid? Is it just a few bad results against really good teams, or is it symptomatic of some bigger problem(s)? Any particular players or tactics who've really been at fault?
CD: There's a few issues going on. One, and perhaps the biggest root cause of them all, is that Napoli aren't terribly deep. They don't have many legitimate starting options past their first-choice XI and a few extra players, so with so many matches in a short spell of time, forced rotation cost them dearly. That coupled with fatigue and loss in form from several players has left Napoli struggling to show the quality that propelled them to the top of the table, and grasping for any kind of remotely positive result.
VN: Speaking of poor form, let's just ignore the Europa League for, like, a few months. Cool. Anyways, what worries you most about a resurgent Fiorentina team that's made some major tactical adjustments over the past month?
CD: Europa League? What Europa League? I can't remember anything about a Europa League.
I'm worried about Fiorentina's home form more than their actual quality of play, to be bluntly honest. They haven't been playing markedly better than Napoli over the last month, even with Napoli's decline, but it's been almost two months since they lost at the Stadio Artemio Franchi. That's cause for concern given Napoli's slide, and they'll have to be much more focused on their task than they have been lately in order to get the result they desire.
So there you have it, straight from the horse's, er, siren's mouth. With kickoff in just two hours, watch this space to see how wrong the so-called experts are about all of this stuff.