Stadio Renato Dall’Ara is the venue as Bologna and Napoli go head-to-head in an exciting Serie A match-up on Sunday evening. Let’s look at our match preview for this contest.
Last season’s impressive ninth-place Serie A finish was no fluke, as evidenced by Bologna’s decent start to the new campaign. Thiago Motta’s men warmed up for top-flight duties with a comfortable 2-0 Coppa Italia win over third-tier Cesena last month.
Despite finding league wins hard to come by in the early exchanges, Rossoblu have already established themselves as a tough nut to crack. Since a 2-0 opening-day loss to Milan on home soil, they have strung together three Serie A games without a defeat (W1, D2).
Motta has heaped praise on his Bologna side following a tepid 0-0 draw at Hellas Verona last Monday, hailing defensive resilience his men showcased at the Stadio Marc’Antonio Bentegodi. They’ll need more of where that came from to stand a chance against Napoli.
The reigning champions have restored some confidence with a winning Champions League start. After back-to-back Serie A matches without a victory, Rudi Garcia’s side squeezed past Sporting Braga 2-1 on Tuesday, courtesy of a late own goal by the Portuguese side’s defender Sikou Niakate.
Even though Victor Osimhen missed a catalog of chances at the Estadio Municipal, Napoli’s performance in Portugal flattered to deceive. It wasn’t the first time this season that Partenopei suffered throughout the game. Only last weekend, they had to overcome a 2-0 goal deficit to hold newly-promoted Genoa to a 2-2 draw.
Defensive solidity has been the most prominent feature of this Bologna side during the early season. Only two Serie A clubs have conceded fewer goals than their four after as many outings, testifying to Motta’s stellar work in Emilia-Romagna. Yet, Napoli’s visit threatens to flip the script.
It’s been 11 years since Bologna last fended off Partenopei at Renato Dall’Ara in Serie A action. Since that 2-0 win in May 2012, they have conceded multiple goals in eight of their ten top-flight meetings on home turf. While it would be a valid reason for panic, there’s a silver lining.
With less than half an hour left on the clock, Bologna hauled back a two-goal deficit to eke out a 2-2 draw in this corresponding fixture last May.
Player to Watch: Joshua Zirkzee
No stranger to scoring against Napoli, the ex-Bayern Munich forward broke the deadlock when the two sides met at the Diego Maradona Stadium last season. Both his competitive goals this term have come at Dall’Ara, highlighting him as a genuine threat.
After back-to-back league wins to get their Scudetto defense off to a flying start, Napoli have run out of steam. Before barely salvaging a point at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris, Partenopei slipped to a dismal 2-1 home loss to Lazio on matchday three. They’re now at risk of going three straight Serie A games without winning for the first time in over a year.
But given they’ve averaged more goals against Bologna (1.5 per game) than against any other Serie A side, Napoli may find this trip comforting. Nothing less than a victory would do for the defending holders, with pacesetters Inter already five points clear after just four rounds. However, this won’t be a walk in the park.
Napoli haven’t fared well on the road lately, pulling off just one win on their last five Serie A travels (D3, L1). It’s also worth noting they capitulated multiple times per match on four occasions during that run.
Player to Watch: Victor Osimhen
After his finishing touch let him down one too many times at Braga, last season’s Capocannoniere award winner will be keen to return to the scoreboard. He enjoys playing against Bologna, having tallied five goals in his six league appearances against them.
In addition to long-term absentee Adama Soumaoro, Bologna will be without Milan loanee Alexis Saelemaekers for this fixture, as the Belgian winger was already injured before he completed his loan switch to Emilia-Romagna.
Napoli boss Garcia cannot call upon the services of Amir Rrahmani, Jens Cajuste, and Diego Diego Demme. There’s also a question mark over Pierluigi Gollini’s head, meaning Alex Meret should keep his place between the sticks.
Bologna vs Napoli Potential Lineups
Bologna (4-2-3-1): Lucasz Skorupski; Stefan Posch, Sam Beukema, Jhon Lucumi, Victor Kristiansen; Remo Freuler, Michel Aebischer; Dan Ndoye, Lewis Ferguson, Jesper Karlsson; Joshua Zirkzee.
Napoli (4-3-3): Alex Meret; Giovanni Di Lorenzo, Leo Ostigard, Juan Jesus, Mario Rui; Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa, Stanislav Lobotka, Piotr Zielinski; Giacomo Raspadori, Victor Osimhen, Khvicha Kvaratskhelia.
Bologna vs Napoli Prediction
While we expect Bologna to give Napoli a run for their money, this should go the visitors’ way.
Prediction: Napoli Win
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