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Empoli logo
Serie A | Gameweek 33
Apr 20, 2024 at 5pm UK
Stadio Carlo Castellani
Napoli logo

1 - 0

Cerri (4')
Pezzella (54'), Bereszynski (58')
FT(HT: 1-0)

Jesus (37'), Ngonge (90+3')

Preview: Empoli vs. Napoli - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Saturday's Serie A clash between Empoli and Napoli, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Soon to relinquish their status as Serie A champions, Napoli visit struggling Empoli on Saturday evening, simply trying to stay in contention for a European place next season.

While the Scudetto holders were held by lowly Frosinone last weekend, a painful loss in Lecce leaves their hosts in serious danger of relegation.

Match preview

Napoli's Victor Osimhen celebrates scoring their first goal on February 21, 2024© Reuters

Needing points to stay in touch with Italy's top six, Napoli were ultimately forced to settle for a 2-2 draw at Stadio Maradona last Sunday, after they twice let leads slip at home to a side struggling to stay afloat in Serie A.

To make matters worse for the Partenopei, their on-loan striker Walid Cheddira did the damage by scoring both of Frosinone's goals, cancelling out finishes from Victor Osimhen and Matteo Politano.

Following their latest setback, Francesco Calzona's side have now conceded at least twice in each of their last three matches, but at least a lean spell in front of goal has reached its end before European qualification drifted beyond reach.

Since Calzona returned to the club in mid-February, Osimhen and his sidekick Khvicha Kvaratskhelia have been directly involved in the most Serie A strikes - both registering seven goals or assists during that time.

However, the reigning champions - soon to be deposed by Inter Milan, barring a dramatic turn of events - only occupy seventh spot in the standings and trail sixth-placed Atalanta BC by two points, having played one game more.

A top-seven finish should now prove enough to qualify for Europe, but Lazio, Torino and Fiorentina are all in contention too, so Napoli will be keen to build on a four-match unbeaten streak away from home by securing maximum points at Stadio Castellani.

Empoli coach Davide Nicola before the match on January 27, 2024© Reuters

Including their shock 1-0 success in Naples last November, in which Viktor Kovalenko snatched victory with a stoppage-time winner, Empoli have won four of their last six league meetings with Napoli.

The Tuscan club are in need of a repeat performance this weekend, though, as they sit 17th in the top-flight table with just six rounds remaining and are fighting for survival.

Only one point above 18th-placed Frosinone in a seven-team scrap to avoid filling two more relegation places alongside doomed Salernitana, Empoli were beaten by a late strike at Lecce's Via del Mare last time out.

They have now lost five of their last six fixtures to nil, and since March began they have failed to find the net more often than any other Serie A side, also losing the most matches.

Now, head coach Davide Nicola - a renowned survival expert - will aim to defy the odds and lead his team to successive home wins for the first time since last May, when a run of three in a row dragged them definitively clear of danger.

Empoli Serie A form:

Napoli Serie A form:

Napoli form (all competitions):

Team News

Napoli coach Francesco Calzona reacts on February 21, 2024© Reuters

Francesco Calzona must make at least two changes to Napoli's leaky defence on Saturday, as both Amir Rrahmani and Mario Rui will serve one-match bans, with the latter having been dismissed deep into stoppage time against Frosinone.

Juan Jesus should overcome a back problem to replace Rrahmani in the centre, but the absence of injured left-back Mathias Olivera could require some improvisation; Pasquale Mazzocchi may be asked to play on his less-favoured side.

Cyril Ngonge returns from suspension and is set to start on the bench, as Victor Osimhen, Khvicha Kvaratskhelia and Matteo Politano continue to join forces up front.

In midfield, Piotr Zielinski - who is expected to leave Naples when his contract expires this summer - returns to a club he played 63 Serie A matches for, scoring five goals in the process; since then, he has scored twice against Empoli in the league.

The hosts, meanwhile, will be without Tyronne Ebuehi, who is ruled out for the rest of the season, while Ardian Ismajli looks set to be sidelined by a thigh injury.

There is plenty of competition for places up front, as Alberto Cerri led Empoli's attack last week, but Stiven Shpendi, M'Baye Niang, Francesco Caputo and Mattia Destro are all available too.

Empoli possible starting lineup:
Caprile; Bereszynski, Walukiewicz, Luperto; Gyasi, Marin, Maleh, Pezzella; Zurkowski, Cambiaghi; Cerri

Napoli possible starting lineup:
Meret; Di Lorenzo, Jesus, Ostigard, Mazzocchi; Anguissa, Lobotka, Zielinski; Politano, Osimhen, Kvaratskhelia

SM words green background

We say: Empoli 1-2 Napoli

Though not as accurate as they would like, Napoli have attempted the most shots in Serie A this season; by contrast, Empoli have faced the second-most. That should indicate the likely direction of play at Stadio Castellani, but it may still be only one goal that splits these sides by the final whistle.

For data analysis of the most likely results, scorelines and more for this match please click here.

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