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Atlético Madrid - Napoli Preview

On Tuesday, Atlético Madrid will embark on their second pre-season match against Serie A side Napoli, in what should be an exciting match all around. 

Audi Cup 2017 Press Conference Photo by Sebastian Widmann/Getty Images For AUDI

In what is a matchup between two sides similar in terms of the ascension in their respective leagues, but not in play style, Napoli and Atlético Madrid will face each other in the Allianz Arena in Munich. Regardless of the outcome, both teams will play again on Wednesday in either the final or third place playoff. Like with all preseason tournaments, there is no meaning to this tournament, other than gaining fitness and money for the club.

Most observers of the game would have expected a bigger fall off from Napoli last season after the departure of Gonzalo Higuain to league rivals Juventus, but Maurizio Sarri’s side continued their high-octane offensive style, with Dries Mertens taking the striking reigns, and scoring 34 in all comps, just four less than Higuain the year before. For some time, Napoli has been a team that has had a few talismanic players, surrounded by players that enhance their stars. The recurring player is of course Marek Hamšik, a fantastic technical player in midfield, and is often a joy to watch. There is lots of quality in their side, with two very good fullbacks, solid midfielders around Hamšik in Allan and Jorginho, as well as Lorenzo Insigne the key to their attack.

Atleti have only played one preseason game so far, a thrilling 0-0 in Mexico, so this game will serve to get some players minutes in preparation for the season, as well as allowing for some players to get back to full fitness, like Augusto and Šime Vrsaljko. Preseason matches are generally played at half speed, so it would not be a surprise to see Diego Simeone err on the side of caution and have his side work on their defensive set up against what is a very strong Napoli attack who will often prefer to get caught on a counter if it means they can play in an attacking style.

Because of the contrasting styles, it could make for an interesting match, generally though, after halftime, the tempo decreases dramatically in preseason friendlies, so there could be less action, as well as lots of substitutions. Either way, it provides a good opportunity to get a look at the players, if a bit less exciting than a normal summer due to the registration ban which Atleti is currently under. The most important things, ultimately, are building fitness and avoiding injuries to key first team players, as the squad is already thin, without the possibility of reinforcements.