Chievo and Napoli face off at Stadio Marc’Antonio Bentegodi on Sunday in Round 25 of the Serie A.
Napoli Form: WWDWW (Serie A only)
Napoli finally suffered a loss at the hands of Real Madrid in Champions League competition this week. The European champions defeated the Partenopei 3-1 in the first leg of their Round of 16 matchup. Lorenzo Insigne scored the opening goal to put Napoli ahead early before Real Madrid took over for the rest of the match. The loss was Napoli’s first since Oct. 29 – 2-1 at the hands of Serie A leader Juventus.
Despite the loss, Napoli’s form in league competition has been superb. The Azzurri remain in a battle with Roma for second place, just two points behind the Giallorossi. Maurizio Sarri’s men have won eight out of their last 10 matches in Serie A play. The club defeated Genoa 2-0 at the Stadio San Paolo its last league match. Sarri will want his guys to get back on track after a loss midweek.
Chievo Form: LLWDW
Chievo hovers around in the middle of the table after winning two of their last three matches. The Gialloblu currently sit in 11th place with 32 points.
The club defeated a struggling Sassuolo 3-1 away from home last weekend. Roberto Inglese lead the way at Mapei Stadium as he netted a hat-trick. Chievo found itself down within 25 minutes, but responded just before the half to tie it at 1-1. Then, the club didn’t look back and secured the victory in the second half. Chievo also defeated Lazio on Jan. 28.
Chievo is 4-4-4 at home this season, but but always play Napoli tough at the Bentegodi. Rolando Maran’s men will look to get a positive result and move into the top 10 in the Serie A.
Head to Head
Napoli has won its last four matches overall against Chievo and its last three away in Verona. In the last 10 matches between the two clubs, the Partenopei have won seven while Chievo have won just two. However, as mentioned previously, Chievo always gives Napoli a difficult match at home. In their last eight meetings in Verona, the clubs both have four wins. In that same stretch of matches, Chievo has scored 11 goals and Napoli has scored 10.
Projected Starting Lineups and Probable Formations
Chievo Projected Starting XI (4-3-2-1): Sorrentino; Cacciatore, Dainelli, Cesar, Gobbi; Izco, Radovanovic, Hetemaj; Birsa, Castro; Inglese.
Napoli Projected Starting XI (4-3-3): Reina; Hysaj, Albiol, Koulibaly, Strinic; Allan, Jorginho, Hamsik (C); Callejon, Pavoletti, Mertens.
Players to Watch
Pavoletti still remains scoreless in his brief time at Napoli. Dries Mertens has been hot at the striker position, which has cut into Pavoletti and Arkadiusz Milik’s playing time. However, with the numerous games that the partenopei will have to play in a short time, Pavoletti might get a chance to start.
The Italian boasts great physicality in his game and has the ability to finish. His hold up play has been impressive in his limited appearances, which has assisted him in creating the chances he has had. It’s only a matter of time before Pavoletti opens his scoring account with Napoli.
Arek Milik completed his comeback from an ACL injury on Wednesday against Real Madrid. The Polish striker played about 10 minutes in his return. There was not much for the 22 year-old to do, but it is positive to see him back on the field.
If Pavoletti does not start, it may be Milik who gets the chance to play. There is also a possibility that Milik will substitute the starting striker later in the game. Either way, the forward will be a player to watch. Milik will need to work on his match fitness in order to get back into the starting lineup. The youngster is a key to Napoli’s attack. Milik scored seven goals to begin his Napoli career in impressive fashion. The Partenopei will want him back on the field and back to his old-self.
Inglese bagged a hat-trick last week against Sassuolo in a 3-1 victory. He also leads the team with six goals on the season. Napoli’s defense always seems to be in question and can very well concede goals. One of Inglese’s strength is the aerial game, and with Napoli’s defense, he can very well score on a header. If Chievo wants a chance at beating Napoli, it will need Inglese at the top of his game.
Birsa has scored four goals on the season and leads the team in assists with seven. The Slovenian does well in multiple areas of the game including making key passes, crosses and his ability to take set-pieces. If Birsa can take advantage of Napoli’s flank, he can very well provide dangerous services throughout the game. Napoli needs to pay attention to Birsa if they want to minimize potential damage in this matchup.
The game doesn’t give the feeling of a blowout as Chievo will surely give Napoli a hard time in the matchup. However, the Partenopei will be hungry for a win after suffering a defeat on Wednesday. Roma plays Torino, which could contribute to Napoli’s push for second place and the Scudetto. Sarri will have his men ready for a tough game, but one that they should be able to take home three points.