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

Saturday’s high-stakes Serie A showdown at the Stadio Olimpico pits underachieving Roma and fallen champions Napoli against each other. Though both sides commence this matchday outside the top four, this encounter could have a massive impact on the Champions League qualification race. 

Jose Mourinho’s managerial future at Roma remains a subject of wild speculation. A first top-four finish since 2017/18 would probably extend the Portuguese’s stay in Rome. However, Giallorossi must overcome a rough patch to consolidate their stuttering effort following back-to-back winless league outings. 

After a nine-man Roma barely held Fiorentina to a 1-1 draw in their last home league outing, Bologna thumped Mourinho’s charges 2-0 on Sunday, demoting them to eighth in the standings. At first glance, they’re miles away from the top-four pace. But in reality, they trail fourth-placed Rossoblu by a mere three points. 

It highlights the importance of winning this fixture. If Mourinho’s future is in doubt, Walter Mazzarri’s credentials are in tatters. Napoli seemed to be on the brink of turning the corner after back-to-back home wins against Sporting Braga and Cagliari, respectively. That’s when disaster struck, hitting the veteran manager like a thunderbolt. 

Napoli found themselves on the receiving end of a humiliating 4-0 scoreline against Serie A newcomers Frosinone in midweek Coppa Italia action. A cataclysmic result at Stadio Diego Armando Maradona forced Mazzarri to make a sincere apology, aware of the pain his side’s miserable performance caused to the club supporters. 

Despite boasting a two-point lead over their hosts, the visitors are those who have a point to make this weekend. Stuck a point adrift of fourth-placed Bologna at the start of this round, Napoli will be out to not only avenge a dreadful Coppa Italia exit but boost their top-four case amid a disgraceful defending campaign. 

Match Preview


Despite the abovementioned draw against La Viola, the Stadio Olimpico has been Giallorossi’s safe haven this season. Since a 2-1 loss to Milan at the start of September, Roma have strung together an eye-catching nine-game unbeaten home streak in all competitions (W8, D1), including a commanding 3-0 Europa League triumph against Sheriff Tiraspol last time out. 

To put the hosts’ over-reliance on their home form in context, 68% of their Serie A points this season have come in the capital (17/25). Defensive solidity has been essential, with Roma racking up six clean sheets across their last nine home games in all competitions. Mourinho can’t complain about Roma’s scoring output either, given that his men have bagged at least two goals in four of the last five matches they’ve hosted.


Mazzarri’s return to the helm after a decade following Rudi Garcia’s nightmarish patch has yet to yield the desired effect. Napoli have blown hot and cold across seven competitive games under the Italian manager (W3, L4). They’ll be out to balance the scales and recover some optimism, though erasing the memory of Tuesday’s thumping defeat to Frosinone won’t come overnight.

Napoli can at least find some comfort in their decent-looking away form. Before falling to a 1-0 defeat at Juventus earlier in December, they had gone unbeaten on eight consecutive Serie A travels (W5, D3). Additionally, Partenopei have fared remarkably well on their recent visits to the capital. Except for a 2-1 loss in November 2019, they’re undefeated in six of their last seven matches against Roma at Olimpico (W5, D2).

Team News

Long-term absentees Chris Smalling, Marash Kumbulla, and Tammy Abraham are still out. But Mourinho’s principal concern relates to Paulo Dybala’s match fitness. The Argentine suffered a muscle injury against Fiorentina and will likely stay on the sidelines. Lorenzo Pellegrini, Houssem Aouar, and Sardar Azmoun are also unavailable.

As for Napoli, Mathias Olivera remains the only definite absentee, but there’s a chance Elif Elmas won’t be part of Mazzarri’s traveling squad due to a minor fitness problem.

Roma vs Napoli Potential Lineups

Roma (3-5-2): Rui Patricio; Gianluca Mancini, Diego Llorente, Evan Ndicka; Rasmus Kristensen, Bryan Cristante, Leandro Paredes, Edoardo Bove, Nicola Zalewski; Stephan El Shaarawy, Romelu Lukaku.

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

Roma vs Napoli Prediction

This contest could prove a turning point for both sides, especially Napoli, who need any encouragement they can get to navigate these tumultuous times. However, Roma’s formidable home form gives the hosts a significant upper hand as we back Mourinho to pour more misery on Mazzarri’s disappointing return to southern Italy.

Prediction: Roma Win

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