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Apr 26, 2015 at 7.45pm UK at Stadio Diego Armando Maradona
Gabbiadini (31'), Higuain (34', 81' pen.), Insigne (47')
FT(HT: 2-1)
Albiol (12' og.), Muriel (89')

Preview: Napoli vs. Sampdoria

Sports Mole looks ahead to this weekend's Serie A match between Napoli and Sampdoria.

Two teams with aspirations of qualifying for the Champions League will meet on Sunday evening, as Napoli go head to head with Sampdoria at the Stadio San Paolo.

The Partenopei have rediscovered their form and are unbeaten in four games, while the visitors have struggled and are without a win in their three previous league outings.


Napoli head coach Rafael Benitez gestures during the Serie A match between AS Roma and SSC Napoli at Stadio Olimpico on October 18, 2013© Getty Images

Napoli's season looked to be on the verge of collapsing just two weeks ago when they were knocked out of the Coppa Italia at the semi-final stage by Lazio, following a five-game winless run in the league.

However, a 3-0 victory over Fiorentina got them back on track and just days later they thumped Wolfsburg 4-1 in the first leg of their Europa League quarter-final.

The goals continued to flow last weekend in a 3-0 win at Cagliari and on Thursday evening they confirmed their place in the last four of the Europa League by playing out a 2-2 draw with Wolfsburg.

They will now face Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk in the semi-finals of that tournament and hopes are high that they can go all the way and end a barren run of 26 years without a European trophy.

It is quite some achievement for Napoli manager Rafael Benitez, who has reached a seventh European semi-final in the last 12 years and has guided Valencia and Chelsea to success in the competition.

Winning the Europa League may be their best way of getting back into the Champions League, as they are fourth in the Serie A table and are five points away from catching Roma and Lazio.

They still have seven games left to secure a top-three finish and with players like Jose Callejon and Marek Hamsik back in form and among the goals, there is every chance of them making it happen.

Recent form in Serie A: DLDLWW
Recent form (all competitions): LLWWWD


Serbia head coach Sinisa Mihajlovic during an international friendly match against Colombia on August 14, 2013© Getty Images

Napoli aren't the only team hoping to secure a place in the Champions League, as Sampdoria are right behind them in the table and have their own ambitions of breaking into the top three.

Sinisa Mihajlovic's side were in brilliant form last month and they won all four of their league fixtures in March to really put the pressure on the teams above them.

Things have not gone their way since they returned to action following the international break, and they have failed to win any of their previous three games.

The most frustrating of those came last weekend, when they were held to a goalless draw by struggling Cesena, despite having all of the possession and plenty of chances to claim the points.

It has left them in fifth place and by the time that they play on Sunday evening, they could slip even further down the table if Fiorentina are able to beat Cagliari in their clash at the Artemio Franchi.

Recent form: WWWLDD

Team News

 Gonzalo Higuain of Napoli celebrates after scoring goal 3-1 during the UEFA Europa League Round of 16 football match between SSC Napoli and FC Dinamo Moskva at the San Paolo Stadium on March 12, 2015© Getty Images

Christian Maggio is suspended for Napoli, so Henrique is the most likely to take his spot at right-back.

They will also be without Jonathan de Guzman and long-term absentee Michu, who are both ruled out through injury.

Sampdoria will have just one absentee this weekend, as an injury has ruled Fabrizio Cacciatore out of contention.

Mihajlovic could freshen up his side after their stalemate last weekend, but Eder, Stefano Okaka and Samuel Eto'o will all be expected to line up in attack once again.

Napoli possible starting lineup:
Andujar, Henrique, Albiol, Koulibaly, Strinic, Inler, Lopez, Callejon, Gabbiadini, Hamsik, Higuain

Sampdoria possible starting lineup:
Viviano, De Silvestri, Silvestre, Romagnoli, Regini, Soriano, Palombo, Obiang, Eder, Okaka, Eto'o

Head To Head

Duvan Zapata headed in an equaliser deep into stoppage time as Napoli came from behind to earn a 1-1 draw when these teams met in December.

That result stretched Napoli's unbeaten run against Sampdoria to seven games, with five of those matches ending in wins for the Azzurri.

The Naples outfit are also scoring for fun at the moment and they have netted 12 goals in their last four outings, compared to just two for Sampdoria in their previous four games.

Sports Mole Logo

We say: Napoli 3-1 Sampdoria

Napoli have returned to form at the perfect time and they are on course for a memorable end to the season. They will be buoyed by recent results against Fiorentina and Wolfsburg and they should have enough quality to see off Sampdoria, which is why we are backing Benitez's men to claim the points.

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Atalanta's Italian forward Rolando Bianchi (L) fights for the ball with Napoli's Uruguayan defender Miguel Angel Britos during the Italian Serie A football match SSC Napoli vs Atalanta BC on March 22, 2015
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