Napoli vs Atalanta Preview and Lineups – Serie A Round 16

Saturday’s Serie A action rounds off with a mouth-watering showdown between pacesetters Napoli and fourth-placed Atalanta at the Diego Armando Maradona Stadium. Sat five points below the Partenopei ahead of this round, La Dea are aware a potential win in this top-four six-pointer would all but prove their title credentials.

It looks like Napoli have run out of steam of late after enjoying a scintillating start to the season. Despite racking up ten wins in their opening 11 Serie A fixtures, a return of just one triumph from their last four league outings is not precisely a title form. It means the hosts will have to rediscover their mojo to avoid another annoying season, and they have to do it quickly.

Unlike Napoli, Atalanta head into proceedings in the midst of a purple patch, having won their last four Serie A matches in a row, including a 4-0 humbling of newly-promoted Venezia in midweek. Following a bit stuttering league start by their standards, Gian Piero Gasperini’s men seem to be returning to their former heights.

Napoli vs Atalanta Head-to-Head

Napoli may have hammered Atalanta 4-1 at home in the first half of last season, but La Dea came back to collect the debt in the reverse fixture, securing a 4-2 win in Bergamo back in February. They will now be looking to register back-to-back league triumphs over the Partenopei for the first time since 2016/17.

While the fans could be anxious given what’s at stake, neutrals should be in for a treat. Three of the last four Serie A encounters between these two sides in Naples have seen 4+ goals and both teams on the scoresheet, underlining the possibility for an action-packed, high-octane affair at the Diego Armando Maradona Stadium.

Though they’ve been rock-solid at the back this season, Napoli’s recent defensive record against Atalanta speaks loudly of a potential leaky evening. Indeed, they have failed to keep the Bergamo-based outfit at bay in any of their last seven Serie A match-ups at home, conceding ten goals in the process.

Napoli Form Preview

Napoli could only manage a frustrating 2-2 away draw at Sassuolo in midweek despite taking a two-goal advantage midway through the second half. That stalemate, coupled with a 3-2 loss at Inter a fortnight ago and an underwhelming 1-1 home draw with Hellas Verona on the cusp of November’s international break, exposed Napoli’s defensive frailties.

Against this backdrop, having conceded just nine goals in Serie A so far this season, Napoli will take the field as the only side in Italy’s top-flight yet to ship double digits in 2021/22. In turn, four clean sheets from their last five home league games should feel the Partenopei with confidence.

What’s more, current boss Luciano Spalletti has led his sides to a clean sheet in three of his last four matches against Atalanta as a manager. Worryingly, though, the Italian has only won one of these fixtures in Serie A (D2, L1), suggesting Gasperini might be having his number.

In the absence of the injured star striker Victor Osimhen, Dries Mertens has stepped up to the plate to carry his side’s scoring burden. The all-time Napoli top-scorer bagged his side’s second at Sassuolo following his quick-fire first-half brace in a 4-0 thrashing of Lazio last weekend.

Atalanta Form Preview

Since a goal-friendly 2-2 home draw with Lazio in late October, Gasperini’s team have gone from strength to strength in Serie A, putting together four successive wins by an aggregate score of 12-3. Among sides to have found themselves on the receiving end of Atalanta’s imperious form were Juventus, who suffered their first home league defeat to La Dea since 1989.

Bringing the 2020/21 season into the equation, Atalanta have picked up eight victories across their previous nine Serie A away games, winning the last four on the trot by netting an average of 2.5 goals per match. There’s a piece of history for the visitors to play for in Naples as they could string together five top-flight triumphs on hostile turf for only the second time in the club’s history. 

Though they’ve never been famous for their defensive prowess, Gasperini’s men have kept a clean sheet in their last two Serie A outings. But it’s been over a year since Atalanta last went three consecutive league matches without conceding, doing so in July 2020. 

Napoli must be familiar with Duvan Zapata‘s well-documented scoring abilities, given they had the Colombian beast on their payroll for five years before shipping him out to Atalanta in 2018. But an unknown entity in the shape of Mario Pasalic could spoil the part on the south. 

The Croat has already tallied seven goals in 15 Serie A appearances this season en route to becoming the first Atalanta midfielder to hit a seven-goal milestone after just 15 rounds since Cristiano Doni, back in 2007/08.

Napoli vs Atalanta Predicted Lineups

Napoli (4-3-3): David Ospina; Mario Rui, Juan Jesus, Amir Rrahmani, Giovanni Di Lorenzo; Stanislav Lobotka, Piotr Zielinski, Diego Demme; Hirving Lozano, Matteo Politano, Dries Mertens.

Atalanta (3-4-3): Juan Musso; Berat Djimsiti, Jose Luis Palomino, Rafael Toloi; Joakim Maehle, Marten de Roon, Remo Freuler, Davide Zappacosta; Ruslan Malinovskyi, Mario Pasalic, Duvan Zapata.