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Italian Serie A Football

Napoli v AS Roma – Preview, Predictions and Best Bets

Napoli host Roma on Sunday in Serie A at Stadio Diego Armando Maradona.

Napoli v Roma

Napoli host Roma on Sunday in Serie A at Stadio Diego Armando Maradona. Partenopei have lost just one of their last 20 Serie A matches and sit 12 points clear of AC Milan at the top of the table after 50% of the season. Roma sits fifth but are just a point off Roma in second place as they chase a Champions League spot under Jose Mourinho.

Napoli Form

Napoli’s form is outstanding. They went into the World Cup break on a run of 13 wins and two draws in 15 Serie A fixtures, having won on the road at key rivals in Milan, Lazio, Roma, and Atalanta. Luciano Spalletti’s side had won 11 on the bounce and looked favourites for the Scudetto.

Their first match after the eight-week break was a surprisingly flat 1-0 loss away to Inter Milan. The usually free-scoring Napoli only managed nine shots and 0.91 xG. If there were any doubts about them after that defeat, they’ve put them to bed in their three subsequent matches. A 2-0 win at Sampdoria was followed by thrashing Juventus 5-1 in a statement victory against a side win eight wins in a row without conceding. Last time out, they won 2-0 at Salernitana.

Napoli Team News

Top Georgian winger Khvicha Kvaratskhelia has missed the last two matches due to illness. He should return for this one and compete for a place with Elif Elmas down the left. Mateo Politano is set to be benched with Hirving Lozano back in the XI of late.

The rest of the side picks itself with Amir Rrahmani at centre back over Juan Jesus. Tanguy Ndombele will again have to impact the match from the bench.

Napoli Motivation

This is a big match and one Napoli will go all out to win. A Roma win would close their gap to Mourinho’s side to ten points and open the door for Milan and Lazio to make it “just” a nine-point lead.

Spalletti’s side are very attacking but will have one eye on Roma’s counter-attacking threat, especially knowing how solid Mourinho’s side have been this season.

Roma Form

Mourinho celebrated his 60th birthday on Thursday and has his Roma side in an improved form. They’re fifth in the table and just a point off Milan in second, owing partly to Juventus’ 15-point deduction. Going into the World Cup break, the Giallorossi were not in great form, winning once in five Serie A matches and losing 1-0 at home to both Napoli and Lazio.

Since the league resumed, they’ve found some improved form and results. They beat Bologna 1-0 and scored two late goals after the 86th minute to draw 2-2 at Milan having been 2-0 down. They then won 2-0 against Fiorentina and 2-0 at Spezia. Paulo Dybala scored twice in the first win and assisted twice the last time out.

Roma Team News

Mourinho left captain Lorenzo Pellegrini on the bench for the last match as a precaution due to a small injury. He should be back to start this match. The coach has decided to allow Nicolò Zaniolo to depart, with Italian and English clubs circling. He won’t feature in this match.

Zeki Çelik is suspended at right wingback and a solution will need to be found, perhaps in the shape of Leonardo Spinazzola. Nemanja Matic should get the nod in midfield in preference to Edoardo Bove. Newly signed winger Ola Solbakken will feature from the bench once again.

Roma Motivation

Roma won’t want to lose ground in the race for the top four, but a draw here would be a legitimately excellent result.

Mourinho’s side could set up in quite a deep 5-3-2 defensive shape and play on the break through the in-form Dybala and improving Abraham.

Key Stats

Napoli have won 14 of their last 15 Serie A matches

Napoli have won 10/11 home Serie A matches, scoring 35 goals

Napoli are 6 Serie A matches unbeaten vs Roma (W4, D2)

Roma are unbeaten in 6 league matches (DDWDWW)

Roma have failed to score in 4 of their last 5 matches vs Napoli (Serie A)

Roma’s 0.68 non-penalty xG faced per game is the lowest in the big 5 leagues

Napoli’s Osimhen has scored 11 goals in his last 10 Serie A apps

Verdict

This should be a good game tactically but Napoli are certainly favourites. They nicked a late 1-0 win in the reverse fixture (with Osimhen on target) and this one could be similarly tight. A win to nil looks like great value for the hosts.

Best Bet: Napoli win at 1.71
Alternative Bet: Napoli win to zero at 2.90
Anytime goalscorer: Victor Osimhen at 2.20

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James is a football analyst who writes about the tactics of the PSL and English Premier League. He holds the UEFA A coaching licence and has previously worked for several clubs in analysis roles.Twitter: https://twitter.com/footy_analysis

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