Preview: Napoli vs Roma – Team News, Lineups & Prediction

Napoli’s disastrous title-defending Serie A campaign has reached a ‘make or break’ point as they entertain Roma in a must-win game on Sunday. Failure is not an option for Francesco Calzona’s side if they’re to maintain their chances of featuring in a major UEFA competition next term. 

European qualification remains a distinct possibility for Napoli. But there’s no wriggle room anymore after a dismal 1-0 defeat at relegation-fighting Empoli last weekend left the dethroned champions outside the top seven. Seventh-placed Lazio is still within striking distance, though, as only three points separate the two sides ahead of this round.

Last weekend’s embarrassing performance at Stadio Carlo Castellani saw Napoli set an unwanted piece of history. Empoli’s win, accompanied by Partenopei’s one shot on target, helped newly-crowned champions Inter finish round 33 a whopping 38 points clear of Calzona’s team. That’s the record deficit for the reigning champions in Serie A history. 

Visiting Roma could add to Napoli’s misery on Sunday. Daniele De Rossi’s side bounced back from a 3-1 home loss to Bologna last Monday with a win at Udinese on Thursday. With only 18 minutes replayed after the referee halted the original fixture due to Evan Ndicka’s collapse, Bryan Cristante showed up late to inspire Giallorossi to a much-needed victory.

Cristante’s stoppage-time heroics saw Roma tighten their grip on the Champions League spots, extending their lead on sixth-placed Atalanta to four points. But there’s no room for complacency as Gian Piero Gasperini’s lads have a game in hand going into the last four matchdays. 

Match Preview


Firmly on course to become the worst champions in Serie A history, Napoli must return to winning ways this weekend to avoid such a fate. Except for a come-from-behind 4-2 win at Monza at the start of April, Calzona’s men have gone winless in six of their last seven matches across all competitions (D3, L3). 

One would think the impending return to the Diego Maradona Stadium would aid Napoli’s cause. But that’s not the case. They’ve claimed only one victory in their last five home outings (D4, L1). On top of that, they have notoriously struggled to pick up points on home turf this season, racking up just 23 of their 49 Serie A total here. 

Last season’s near-impregnable defense has fallen apart this term, as evidenced by Napoli’s disappointing record of two clean sheets from 16 league games at home (W6, D5, L5). As if that’s not troubling enough, they suffered a 2-0 defeat in December’s reverse fixture in the capital. 


One of Jose Mourinho’s last-ditch attempts to salvage his Roma career laid the foundation for Giallorossi’s bid to complete their first Serie A double over Napoli since 1997/98. It’s up to his successor, Daniele De Rossi, to finish the job, though there’s a catch. 

Roma have stuttered on their recent visits to Naples, going winless in their last five away meetings with Partenopei (D2, L3). Moreover, they failed to score more than once in all those five matches. But perhaps Napoli’s defensive hemorrhage could help the visitors buck that trend on Sunday

Back-to-back single-goal margin wins on the road can inspire confidence around the Roma camp, especially as they’ve followed a below-par run of three winless competitive travels (D2, L1). However, it’s worth noting that Giallorossi scored more than once merely twice in those five games.

Team News

Mathias Olivera is the only high-profile absentee in the home squad. Nonetheless, Napoli must change something after a horrendous display at Empoli, with Nathan expected to hand his place in the starting XI to Leo Ostigard. Calzona will unlikely make any alterations in other departments.

On the other hand, Roma will take this trip without Romelu Lukaku and Ndicka. Accumulated yellow cards rule Diego Llorente and Leandro Paredes out of this trip, suggesting Chris Smalling and Edoardo Bove could fill the vacancies. 

Napoli vs Roma Potential Lineups

Napoli (4-3-3): Alex Meret; Mario Rui, Leo Ostigard, Amir Rrahmani, Giovanni Di Lorenzo; Stanislav Lobotka, Piotr Zielinski, Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa; Matteo Politano, Khvicha Kvaratskhelia, Victor Osimhen. 

Roma (4-3-3): Mile Svilar; Leonardo Spinazzola, Gianluca Mancini, Chris Smalling, Zeki Celik; Bryan Cristante, Edoardo Bove, Lorenzo Pellegrini; Paulo Dybala, Stephan El Shaarawy, Tammy Abraham.

Napoli vs Roma Prediction

Given what’s at stake, this encounter has all the makings of a low-scoring contest. That’s an environment where Roma thrived under Mourinho and continue to cope well under De Rossi, as we back the visitors to take three points.

Prediction: Roma Win

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