Napoli vs Sampdoria preview - De Laurentiis proud of Napoli

Posted Sunday, January 05, 2014 by PA

Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis is full of pride and optimism heading into his club's first clash of 2014, a home game against Sampdoria.

Napoli start the new year in third spot in the standings and will go into Monday's clash determined to cut the gap to one or both of the two teams above them, Juventus and Roma, who face each other later on Sunday.

Leaders Juve are currently 10 points clear of Napoli, while Roma are five points better off.

"We ended 2013 in third place in Serie A, with three more points than with respect to last season and with a record amount of points in the history of our club," De Laurentiis said. "It's a positive evaluation and we can all be proud."

Napoli also won four of their six group games in the Champions League yet failed to progress - the first time that has happened in the competition.

They will now play in the Europa League.

"There is nothing to be disappointed with as we were eliminated from the Champions League having taken 12 points from our group stages," De Laurentiis said. "I am very proud of my players, who are having an important season."

Rafael Benitez's side has lost just once at the San Paolo stadium this season, a surprise 1-0 defeat to Parma.

Sampdoria, meanwhile, have not won at Napoli since April 1998.

The Genoa club are unbeaten in their previous five games and moved up to 14th place - four points clear of the drop zone - after drawing 1-1 with Parma in their final game of 2013.

Samp have half the points that Napoli do this season but visiting coach Sinisa Mihajlovic believes his team can pull off a surprise on Monday.

"We are going to Napoli to win, as we always do," he said.

"After the winter break, it usually happens that the team that is more focused and not the strongest one is the one that comes out on top."

Napoli will be bolstered by the return of playmaker Marek Hamsik, who has been out of action since November with a foot injury.

However, Swiss midfielder Valon Behrami picked up a knock on his right foot in training and has been ruled out for the encounter.

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