Brother clubs Napoli and Genoa face off at the Stadio San Paolo in Round 24 of the Serie A on Friday.
Napoli Form: WWWDW
Napoli has performed at a high level recently and is undefeated in its last 17 games in all competitions. The club suffered their last loss against Juventus – a 2-1 finish on Oct. 29.
The Azzurri lead the league in scoring with 55 goals, seven more than Roma who has 48. Maurizio Sarri and his team thrashed Bologna last week 7-1 away from home in dominating fashion. The win was important for the club as they bounced back from a 1-1 draw to Palermo at the San Paolo. The three points brought Napoli’s point total to 48 where they sit in third place, just two points behind the Giallorossi.
Genoa Form: LLDDL
Genoa hasn’t performed up to standard and find themselves on the other end of the table in 16th place. The Rossoblu suffered a 1-0 loss to Sassuolo last week and have not won since Dec. 15, a 1-0 victory against Fiorentina. Since that victory, the club has lost to the hands of Palermo and Cagliari. Crotone also held Genoa in check, grabbing a point in the 2-2 draw. Il Grifone is only 11 points out of the relegation zone, so the team will want a positive result on Friday.
Head to Head
Napoli has certainly had the upper hand against Genoa in recent matchups. Genoa least defeated Napoli in January of 2012. Since then though, Napoli is undefeated in nine matches against the Liguria-based outfit, winning six of those games.
Projected Starting Lineups and Probable Formations
Napoli Projected Starting XI (4-3-3): Reina; Maggio, Albiol, Koulibaly, Ghoulam; Zielinski, Diawara, Hamsik (C); Giaccherini, Mertens, Insigne.
Inter Projected Starting XI (3-4-3): Lamanna; Munoz, Burdisso, Gentiletti; Lazovic, Veloso, Hiljemark, Laxalt; Pandev, Simeone, Palladino.
Players to Watch
The Belgian recorded a hat-trick in the 7-1 win last week, so no one would be surprised to see him score again. Mertens has scored 14 goals in his last 10 matches for the Partenopei who are riding an unbeaten run during that stretch.
Mertens will most likely play at the striker position again with Emanuele Giaccherini likely taking suspended Jose Callejon’s spot on the right-wing. The forward has scored 16 Serie A goals and is only behind Roma’s Edin Dzeko in the capocannoniere race. However, with Mertens’ latest form, he could lead the league in scoring come Friday’s end.
The striker faces his former team for the first time since joining Napoli in January. There is no indication of Pavoletti getting the start, but any playing time against Genoa will be important for the striker.
The Italian has had some opportunities in his three appearances for the club, yet remains scoreless. All three of his goals this season came for Genoa. However, Pavoletti’s hold up play has been impressive and he will be eager to open his scoring record for Napoli. This match could turn his season around.
The Argentinian has been one of Genoa’s brightest lights in a poor season thus far. Simeone has been impressive with his ability to find the net despite it being his first season in Italy. The 21 year-old forward leads Genoa in scoring with 10 goals so far this season. He might be the biggest threat for Napoli’s questionable defense. Genoa boss Ivan Juric may have to rely on the youngster to create a spark at the San Paolo.
Laxalt had drawn interest from teams in the last few transfer windows due to his talent. The Uruguayan only has one goal on the season, but creates havoc on the offensive side of the ball. Laxalt can tear up the left side of the field, but also contributes on the defensive end of the ball. Look for him to create for Genoa going forward.
With Napoli’s latest form and its recent record against Genoa, it’s hard to imagine anything but three points. The Scudetto hopeful will play Real Madrid next week in the Champions League and hope to approach that clash with the utmost confidence.
Friday’s match will also be played at San Paolo, so the group will want to give the fans a proper send-off. Sarri’s men should have more than enough to pick up another three points and keep pace with Roma for second.