Lazio v Napoli
Serie A Match Preview
Table toppers Napoli head to the Italian capital on Wednesday evening to face a Lazio side still struggling to find consistency.
PIOLI REMAINS UNDER INTENSE SCRUTINY AT LAZIO
Despite being unbeaten in their last six league outings, Lazio coach Stefano Pioli remains under intense pressure under the ever watchful eye of president Claudio Lotito. A 2-1 win away at Inter before the winter break, looked to be the catalyst to turn the club’s fortunes around and although they remain unbeaten in the league in 2016, a quick glance at the opposition that has been put in front of them (Frosinone, Bologna, Chievo and Udinese) tells its own story. Now comes a huge test, against arguably the best footballing side in the division and Pioli will once again, want to see his players to rise to the occasion; just like they did in the San Siro before Christmas.
NAPLES GETS A TOUCH OF SCUDETTO FEVER
In a city that is renowned for its passion for food and football, what is happening this season at the Stadio San Paolo under the tutelage of Maurizio Sarri, is nothing short of a miracle. Not since the halcyon days of Maradona and Careca, have the Neapolitan public had cause to get this excited about their team. Last Sunday, for the first time this season, they had to play catch-up as Juventus hit the summit of Serie A on Sunday lunchtime, destroying Chievo 4-0 in Verona. Questions were asked of how Sarri’s team would respond under pressure at home to Empoli; they were answered emphatically, as the Vesuviani crashed in five goals to return to top-spot. With just over two-weeks to go until what is already being billed as the Scudetto showdown in Turin between Juventus and Sarri’s men, there’s still work to be done, starting with Wednesday’s tricky trip to the capital.
Lazio are beset by injuries with De Vrij, Biglia, Radu, Kishna, Bisevac, Djordjevic and Braafheid all making their way back to fitness. On top of this, they are missing Matri, Cataldi and Milinkovic-Savic for the visit of the league-leaders due to suspension. Veteran German striker Miroslav Klose (*3.20 on the best football betting sites to be an anytime scorer) should lead a three-man attack also featuring Candreva and Felipe-Anderson. Federico Marchetti should get the vote over Berisha and start between the posts.
Napoli have Brazilian midfielder Allan suspended for the trip to the capital and he is joined by full-back Hysaj (Christian Maggio should deputise). New signing Alberto Grassi picked up an injury in training on the day he arrived at the club and is out for at least three-weeks. Striker Gonzalo Higuain is looking for his 23rd goal in 23 league games for Napoli on Wednesday, the betting exchanges are optimistic, currently quoting him at *1.95 to be an anytime scorer. The better value here may be the *4.33 on offer for the Argentine to be first or last goalscorer.
Lazio (from) Marchetti, Berisha, Konko, Mauricio, Hoedt, Basta, Lulic, Onazi, Parolo, Felipe-Anderson, Klose, Candreva, Keita, Gentiletti, Patric, Mauri, Morrison
Napoli (from) Reina, Rafael, Ghoulam, Koulibaly, Albiol, Maggio, Hamsik, Jorginho, David Lopez, Insigne, Higuain, Callejon, Gabriel, Chiriches, Regini, Strinic, Gabbiadini, Chalobah, Luperto, Mertens, El Kaddouri, Valdifiori
HEAD TO HEAD
Lazio will be out for revenge after they were thrashed 5-0 in the first meeting between the two back in September. Napoli have won three of the last four games between the two and haven’t lost to them in the capital since April 2012. Another win on Wednesday, would see them chalk up their third consecutive away league win against Lazio.
Lazio 4.00 Draw 3.60 Napoli 1.90
*odds courtesy of Bet365
Steve Mitchell (@barafundler)