Roma will host rival Napoli at the Stadio Olimpico in Round 27 of the Serie A on Saturday afternoon.
Roma Form: WWLWL (All Competitions)
The Giallorossi’s 2-0 loss to Lazio midweek in the first leg of the Coppa Italia semifinals was truly their first negative result in a month. Roma also lost to Villarreal 1-0 at home in Europa League play, but advanced 4-1 on aggregate.
Roma’s Serie A form has been impressive. The club has won four straight Serie A matches, and eight out of their last 10. The latest victory came against Inter Milan – a 3-1 result away at the San Siro. The win not only kept Inter in sixth place, but also extended Roma’s lead over Napoli for second place to five points.Luciano Spalletti’s men have also been scoring goals at incredible clip – a total of 15 goals in its last five games. The Giallorossi are the second highest scoring team in the league with 57 goals, just behind Napoli who has 60. As the two most scoring teams in the Serie A face off, Roma will remember its trip to the Stadio San Paolo earlier this season (a 3-1 win away from home).
Spalletti and his players will want to bounce back from the Coppa Italia loss and expand on their win against Inter.
Napoli Form: WLWLL (All Competitions)
Napoli has hit a rough patch after losing two straight and three out of its last four matches. Atalanta handed the Partenopei a 2-0 loss at the Stadio San Paolo, which was not a result many expected to see. La Dea took the action right to Napoli and Maurizio Sarri’s men couldn’t respond. His squad suffered another defeat at the hands of Serie A leader Juventus, this time in Coppa Italia – 3-1 at Juventus Stadium in the first leg of the semifinals of the tournament.
Sarri and the Azzurri have been under fire for the recent struggles. With the loss to Atalanta, and Roma’s win against Inter, Napoli fell five points behind second place. Napoli’s chances of advancing in the UEFA Champions League and the Coppa Italia also seem slim, however, the club’s defeat to Atalanta was only its first league loss since late October against the Bianconeri.
There have been good signs in some of the losses: Amadou Diawara has been impressive in the midfield and Marko Rog has proven he can play against big clubs. A win for Napoli at the Stadio Olimpico would put them closer to Roma in the race for second place. Also, they will undoubtedly seek to avenge their 3-1 loss to the Giallorossi at the San Paolo earlier this season.
Head to Head
– Roma has won six out the last 10 matches against Napoli in all competitions.
– Napoli’s last victory against Roma came in Nov. 2014 – a 2-0 win at the Stadio San Paolo.
-Roma is unbeaten in its last five matches against Napoli at the Stadio Olimpico.
Projected Starting Lineups and Probable Formations
Roma Projected Starting XI (3-4-2-1): Szczesny; Manolas, Fazio, Rudiger; Peres, De Rossi, Emerson, Strootman; Salah, Nainggolan; Dzeko.
Napoli Projected Starting XI (4-3-3): Reina; Hysaj, Albiol, Koulibaly, Ghoulam; Zielinski, Diawara, Hamsik (C); Callejon, Mertens, Insigne.
Players to Watch
Insigne has been one of Napoli’s most consistent players lately, even in the team’s rough patch. The home-grown boy is able to wreak havoc on the left flank and create chances for his teammates and himself. Fully capable of driving the ball down the left side of the field and find his way into the box, this sets himself up for one of his signature curlers or a service to a teammate. Naples’ son has scored nine total goals in all competitions and has racked up six assists. Not only has Insigne looked influential on the offense, but he has made a conscious effort to get back defensively. If Napoli want to win this match, Insigne will have to be at the top of his game.
Napoli’s captain has slowed down a bit in the last couple of matches. Hamsik has not looked as quick on the ball and has been a bit more sloppy than usual. He was subbed off the field after 60 minutes on Tuesday and could not impact the game in the loss to Atalanta, yet, the Slovakian midfielder has thrived overall. When Napoli wins a match, Hamsik often plays a major role. The skipper has 12 total goals in all competitions and his vision has been impeccable with eight assists.
Napoli’s midfield runs through their fearless leader. If Hamsik can play like his normal self and orchestrate the attack, especially on the counter, Napoli will have a good chance to succeed.
The Belgian has been a huge part of Roma’s success this season. In their 3-1 defeat last week of Inter, Nainggolan scored two superb goals in the victory, increasing his tally to 12 goals in all competitions. Besides his goal-scoring potential, the midfielder also boasts a physical style of play, averaging 1.6 tackles, one interception and 1.1 fouls per game in the Serie A. He enjoys playing physical and isn’t afraid to apply a slide-tackle on an opposing player. The stats fail to show the amount of times Nainggolan is able to use his body to push an opponent off the ball or to keep possession either. These fixtures tend to bring out the best in Roma’s surging star, and he won’t be hard to miss come kickoff.
The Bosnian striker has returned to his once-stellar form after an average showing in his first season with Roma last year where he only scored 10 goals in all competitions. However, this season the striker has 27 total goals in all competitions along with three assists. Dzeko leads the Serie A in scoring this season with 19 goals up to date. Napoli’s defense has been suspect to defensive mishaps, especially in its last match against Juventus as it conceded two penalties. Dzeko’s aerial game is deadly and can score on corner kicks or crosses into the box, which are things Napoli struggles to defend. If his teammates can give him good service, the former Manchester City star will cause Napoli heaps of trouble.
Napoli seems to be struggling more than Roma who currently ride a two-match losing streak. For that reason, expect Sarri’s men to come out hungry and looking for all three points. Both teams have plenty of scoring options, but prone to making errors on the defensive end. There is a great chance that both Champions League contenders will find the back of the net in this match. However, the Partenopei can’t afford to lose another game and will want to win in order to make up ground in the race for second place.