A mouth-watering showdown between Napoli and Lazio at the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona will serve to drop the curtain on Saturday’s Serie A schedule. Let’s look at our match preview for this heavily anticipated -match-up.
It looks like title-winning manager Luciano Spalletti has left Napoli in safe hands. Spalletti’s successor Rudi Garcia has excelled since returning to Serie A following a seven-year absence. The former Roma tactician had an unpleasant welcome at the Stadio Benito Stirpe as newly-promoted Frosinone opened the scoring against his side on day one.
However, last season’s Capocannoniere award winner, Victor Osimhen, saved the day, netting a brace to inspire Napoli to a 3-1 triumph. The Nigerian embraced the starring against Sassuolo last weekend, converting an early penalty to set the tone for a comfortable 2-0 home victory.
After back-to-back wins at the start of their Scudetto defense, Napoli will be keen to keep up with Milan before the international break. Stefano Pioli’s side overcame Roma 2-1 on Friday night to maintain a 100% league start, putting Partenopei under pressure ahead of Lazio’s venture south. Given the visitors’ poor form, it should be a mere formality.
Last season’s runner-up finish could prove just a fluke as Maurizio Sarri’s men cannot catch a break since releasing talismanic midfielder Sergej Milinkovic-Savic. Following a gut-wrenching 2-1 defeat at Lecce on the opening weekend, Lazio stuck on the receiving end of a 1-0 scoreline against newly-promoted Genoa last week.
Revenge will be at the forefront of the home side’s mind after suffering a narrow 1-0 loss in this corresponding fixture last term. Before Matias Vecino’s second-half winner at the Maradona, Napoli had won four consecutive Serie A encounters against Lazio via a combined score of 13-4, netting at least two goals on each occasion.
After making it six consecutive unbeaten league fixtures against Sassuolo last week, Napoli will be keen to uphold another record on Saturday. Garcia’s men have gone unbeaten in six Serie A home outings on the trot (W4, D2) since a humiliating 4-0 defeat to Milan in early April.
Despite the abovementioned upset last season, there’s a good reason Partenopei are the bookies’ favorites. They had won five straight top-flight meetings with Lazio on home turf before that loss, suggesting it was nothing more than just a one-off.
Player to Watch: Victor Osimhen
He is a one-man army. He doesn’t need many chances to score and will be particularly motivated to get on the scoresheet after drawing a blank in his last three appearances against Lazio.
Before Mateo Retegui stunned the Stadio Olimpico into silence last Sunday, Lazio had been undefeated in 37 home league matches against newly-promoted sides on home soil. That perhaps best illustrates the depth of the ongoing crisis in the capital.
However, Ciro Immobile & Co will be heavily motivated to end their stuttering Serie A start. Another defeat here would be the first time Lazio have opened a new campaign with a hat-trick of losses in their illustrious top-flight history.
Not all is lost yet. Lazio fared reasonably well as traveling underdogs last season, racking up four wins in seven such games (L3). Conceding first could spell the end of the visitors’ bid to defy the odds. They’ve only managed two wins in their last 13 away league outings where the opening goal has gone against them (D3, L8).
Player to Watch: Ciro Immobile
He could be the catalyst to tilt the scales in Lazio’s favor. Eight of his last nine club goals have served to break the deadlock, earmarking him as a potential feel-good factor in the visiting camp.
Except for the highly-rated youngster Gianluca Gaetano, Napoli will have the remainder of their squad fully fit for this contest. Standout winger Khvicha Kvaratskhelia could be in line for his first Serie A start this season after regaining full fitness.
On the other hand, Lazio will be without Brazilian midfielder Marcos Antonio, while veteran winge Pedro faces a race against time to make the squad. Valentin Castellanos should start on the bench despite warranting a significant price tag to swap New York City for Rome this summer.
Napoli vs Lazio Potential Lineups
Napoli (4-3-3): Alex Meret; Giovanni Di Lorenzo, Amir Rrahmani, Juan Jesus, Mathias Olivera; Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa, Stanislav Lobotka, Piotr Zielinski; Matteo Politano, Victor Osimhen, Giacomo Raspadori.
Lazio (4-3-3): Ivan Provedel; Manuel Lazzari, Nicolo Casale, Alessio Romagnoli, Adam Marusic; Daichi Kamada, Danilo Cataldi, Luis Alberto; Felipe Anderson, Ciro Immobile, Mattia Zaccagni.
Napoli vs Lazio Prediction
While Lazio will be hellbent on giving Napoli a run for their money, we anticipate a clear-cut victory for the rampant home side.
Prediction: Napoli Win
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