Serie A Leaders Napoli Face a Tough Trip to Rome

It seems that every week in Italy, there is a major match worth watching. This time, there are at least three. Fiorentina play Inter on Saturday night and there is a doubleheader on Sunday. Atalanta v Lazio is enticing, while the crème de la crème is the battle between Serie A leaders Napoli and Jose Mourinho’s Roma.

Roma welcome Serie A leaders Napoli

Two high flying teams

Napoli and Roma are two of the biggest teams on the Italian landscape and so their current form isn’t a complete shock. At the same time, for the former to be Serie A leaders and unbeaten, plus the latter have won four of their last five. These are not bad deeds.

Few of Napoli’s results have come against lower sides, but they have taken some major scalps. Luciano Spalletti’s side beat both Lazio and AC Milan 2-1 away. They have already won once at the Stadio Olimpico, fighting back against Lazio after falling behind earlier. Two excellent summer arrivals in Kim Min-jae and Khvicha Kvaratskhelia found the back of the net to secure three big points.

Napoli’s opponents in this one and Roma performed well after an embarrassing 4-0 defeat at the hands of Udinese. Since then, they have won four out of five in the league, while picking up just four points in the Europa League. A 1-0 defeat to Atalanta was the exception there and a 2-1 win over Inter at the San Siro was the highlight. Federico Dimarco gave Nerazzurri the lead before Paulo Dybala and Chris Smalling turned the game around.

Since the start of 2020, Napoli and Roma have met five times in the league. Current Serie A leaders Napoli won the match, winning three and drawing two. The two draws came last term with the impossible-to-split pair.

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An early penalty by Lorenzo Insigne set it up colt on the way, but Stephen El Shaarawy gave a hammer blow to death. In the reverse fixture in the Eternal City, there were no goals, but both Jose Mourinho and Spalletti were shown red cards in the backline. Belgium’s Dries Mertens scored three times in the three wins, including the third in a 4-0 thrashing at the Diego Armando Maradona Stadium.

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Read more: Khvicha Kvaratskhelia: The story of the new rising star for Napoli

Who can make the difference for the Serie A leaders?

The standout man for Napoli was undoubtedly Khvicha Kvaratskhelia. The changing of the guard after Insigne and Mertens was tremendously impressive. Victor Osimhen had already started to replace the latter, while Insigne, now of Toronto FC, was replaced by a Georgian star. Kvaratskhelia has five goals and three assists in the league, a tally bettered only by Ciro Immobile, Dusan Vlahovic and Marko Arnautovic.

Kvaratskhelia is not the only difference maker for the Serie A leaders as they made a great move to close the gap following Kalidou Koulibaly’s move to Chelsea. Kim Min-jae is the man in question, he has already scored two big goals for his new team and is dominant in the center of defence.

The South Korean will have to be at his best against him Giallorossi given the attacking options Mourinho has amongst his ranks. Last year, Tammy Abraham did it all on his own from time to time, but the arrival of Paulo Dybala has taken Roma to another level. This duo, along with Lorenzo Pellegrini and Nicolo Zaniolo, can pose a huge threat.

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Abraham has managed just two goals in the league so far, with Dybala leading the way with seven, that’s 0.79 goals per 90 minutes. The Englishman will be extremely under the microscope as Dybala is injured, to the point where he could miss the World Cup in Qatar. A goalless draw has been the outcome of this fixture for the past year, but that seems highly unlikely given the attacking talent on display. Serie A leaders Napoli may show further signs of intent when it comes to chasing down the elusive Scudetto.

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