Sunday’s Serie A program starts at the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona as newly-crowned champions Napoli take on relegated Sampdoria. Regardless of the outcome of this duel, the Partenopei will officially lift their first Scudetto since 1990 at the end of the game.
Party time in Naples started last month, but Luciano Spalletti’s’ final game at the helm promises to be a spectacle. The Italian boss helped Napoli end a 33-year Scudetto wait in emphatic fashion, helping his side become the first team in Europe’s top-five leagues to seal the title. However, complacency has since caught up with the Partenopei.
Last weekend’s goal-glutted 2-2 draw at Bologna was only the tip of the iceberg. They’ve only won twice in five Serie A matches since the start of May (D2, L1), though both victories came at home. Beating a ten-man Inter side proved more difficult than expected, but Napoli still claimed a 3-1 triumph in their most recent league outing at the Maradona.
Of all sides competing in Serie A, Sampdoria perhaps have the slimmest chance to upset the iconic venue in southern Italy. A thoroughly disappointing top-flight campaign saw La Samp book their Serie B tickets even before Cremonese. Their final league fixture before dropping to the second tier for the first time since 2011/12 is unlikely to be pleasant.
Dejan Stankovic’s men come into proceedings winless in their last ten Serie A contests (D4, L6), though a 2-2 home draw against Sassuolo in the previous round may inspire some confidence. But unless they pull off some ‘David Copperfield’ stuff at the Maradona Stadium, Sampdoria will complete the 2022/23 campaign as the only Serie A side not to hit a 30-goal landmark (24).
Napoli’s 87-point tally this season is only second to the club-record 91 achieved in 2018/19 under Maurizio Sarri’s tutelage. Yet Spalletti will be keen to smash a 90-point milestone this weekend, which would be a perfect parting gift ahead of his anticipated summer exit. Sampdoria’s trip to the south is just what the doctor ordered for Napoli.
They have been victorious in their last eight top-flight meetings with La Samp en route to setting up the club’s second-best winning streak against a specific opponent in Serie A. Additionally, the division’s most prolific attack (75 goals) has netted 49 times in their last 19 league encounters against Sampdoria, averaging 2.6 goals per match.
Player to Watch: Victor Osimhen
Who else? With his future at Napoli hanging by a thread, Osimhen will be looking to cap off a Capocannoniere-winning campaign in style and add to his impressive 25-goal haul in the 2022/23 Serie A season.
Holding the champions winless would at least help Sampdoria wave goodbye to Serie A with some dignity. However, it’s hardly in the realm of possibility, especially considering their last top-flight victory at Napoli dates back to 1998. Since then, they’ve suffered 12 defeats on their 14 Serie A visits to the Maradona Stadium.
In addition to losing a club-high 24 games in a single Serie A season, Sampdoria are at risk of finishing the campaign as the only side not to win at least 20 points. Their humiliating 19-point tally has entered the club’s history books for all the wrong reasons. Given they’ve lost five of their last six away league games via multi-goal margins (D1), only a miracle can save them in Naples.
Player to Watch: Manolo Gabbiadini
Gabbiadini has been a rare bright spot in an otherwise horrendous season for Sampdoria, leading the club’s scoring charts in Serie A with seven goals. As the former Napoli player, he’ll be keen to have his say on Sunday.
Napoli will be without injured Hirving Lozano and Mario Rui, as both are still on the sidelines. This clash will probably come too soon for Matteo Politano, while Spalletti cannot call upon Kim Min-Jae due to suspension.
As for Sampdoria, Andrea Conti, Emil Audero, Abdelhamid Sabiri, and Ignacio Pussetto are unavailable for selection. Stankovic could still have Harry Winks and Sam Lammers ready for this trip, while Jeison Murillo and Michael Cuisance are unlikely to recover in time.
Napoli vs Sampdoria Potential Lineups
Napoli (4-3-3): Alex Meret; Giovanni Di Lorenzo, Juan Jesus, Amir Rrahmani, Mathias Olivera; Zambo Anguissa, Stanislav Lobotka, Piotr Zielinski; Elif Elmas, Victor Osimhen, Khvicha Kvaratskhelia.
Sampdoria (3-4-1-2): Nicola Ravaglia; Koray Gunter, Bram Nuytinck, Bruno Amione; Zanoli, Emirhan Ilkhan, Harry Winks, Tommaso Augello; Mehdi Leris; Manolo Gabbiadini, fabio Quagliarella.
Napoli vs Sampdoria Porediction
Not even the most die-hard Sampdoria fans fancy their side’s chances at Napoli. It’s party time on the south coast, and we back Spalletti’s team to spice up wild celebrations with a convincing victory.
Prediction: Napoli Win
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