The Italian Serie A resumes play on Friday with two important games: Napoli plays host to Sampdoria, while Empoli and Palermo clash in a battle at the bottom of the table. Both games have significant consequences, and we will watch to see which teams can kick off 2017 the right way.
Empoli vs. Palermo
Where? Carlo Castellani
When? 11:00 AM CT
Empoli and Palermo lie neck-and-neck at the bottom of the table, and both will be desperate to pick up points on their road to securing Serie A status. Palermo has the bigger goalscoring threat in Nestorovski, but their 35 goals allowed is the highest in the league and I believe their dismal defense will allow Empoli to snatch a precious 3 points in this clash.
Prediction: Empoli 2-1 Palermo
Napoli vs. Sampdoria
Where? 1:45 PM CT
When? San Paolo
Napoli comes into this match against mid-table Sampdoria on the losing side of a 3-way battle for first with Roma and Juventus. They lie 3 points adrift of Roma, who in turn lie 4 points of Juventus. Needing to make up a 7-point difference to climb to the top, Napoli needs to make every game count. They cannot afford to drop any points against Sampdoria, and I believe Mertens, Insigne, and Callejon can help draw level with Roma.
Prediction: Napoli 3-1 Sampdoria