In the biggest game of the weekend in Italy, Lazio travel to the Stadio San Paolo to face Napoli in a re-run of the final match of last season, when victory for the capital club propelled them into the Champions League qualification rounds at the expense of their Southern counterparts.
CONVINCING EUROPA LEAGUE VICTORY GETS NAPOLI BACK ON TRACK
A 5-0 thumping of Club Brugge on Thursday night at the San Paolo finally gave Napoli fans something to cheer about after an indifferent start to their domestic league campaign. Yet to claim their first three points of the new campaign, after surprising draws against Sampdoria and Empoli and an opening day defeat to Sassuolo (which now has them priced on the best online betting sites at *15.00 to win the Serie A championship), coach Maurizio Sarri’s meticulous attention to detail on the training ground finally paid off against the Belgian side who were simply no match for the outhern Italian giants. On Sunday evening, the under pressure Neapolitan tactician will face his biggest test yet against the team from the capital.
LAZIO ARE ROBBED IN THE UKRAINE
Lazio coach Stefano Pioli was left fuming after his side conceded an injury-time equaliser against Dnipro in their Europa League opener on Thursday. What made it all the more difficult to take was that replays clearly showed the ball had not crossed the line as the team from the Italian capital returned home from the Ukraine with just a point. The week had started so well for Pioli after his side had banished the memories of their 4-0 humbling at Chievo by beating Udinese at the Stadio Olimpico in horrendous weather conditions. Football betting guides had the Roman side as one of the favourites to lift the domestic crown in May, but the price on offer now for a top three finish has drifted out to *5.00 whilst their title winning price on the best betting websites, has lengthened to *21.00.
Napoli have no injury worries ahead of Sunday’s match but Sarri has choices to make about his starting formation. The 4-3-3 he employed in Europe served him well and in all probability, this will be his favoured choice for Sunday. The main changes may come in the midfield areas where it’s likely that MirkoValdifiori and the Brazilian Allan will return to the side. Italian striker Lorenzo Insigne who was only a substitute against Club Brugge, will in all probability replace two goal hero José Callejón.
Lazio on the other hand, have a fairly full infirmary. Midfielder Lucas Biglia, German striker Miroslav Klose and Dutch defender Stefan de Vrij are all absentees and Serbian frontman Filip Djordjevicis also a major doubt. On loan striker Alessandro Matri, who scored two goals on his home debut last weekend, will lead the line once more at the San Paolo.
PROBABLE STARTING XI’S
Napoli (4-3-3) Reina; Hysaj, Koulibaly, Albiol, Maggio; Hamsik, Valdifiori, Allan; Insigne, Higuain, Mertens
Lazio (4-2-3-1) Marchetti; Lulic, Mauricio, Gentiletti, Basta; Parolo, Cataldi; Anderson, Mauri, Candreva; Matri
HEAD TO HEAD
Napoli will be out for revenge after last season’s dramatic 4-2 final day heartbreak to the Biancocelesti which remains their only defeat in their last 11 home matches. Napoli have also scored at least two goals in 10 of their last 12 Serie A matches. One of the best football bets of the weekend could be for the home side to win from an Asian Handicap of -1.0 priced at *2.500. Lazio have won two out of their last three on the road but last time they were away from the capital they were humbled 4-0 by Chievo Verona.
Napoli 1.90 Draw 3.60 Lazio 4.00
*Odds courtesy of Bet365
By Steve Mitchell (@barafundler)