MX23RW : Saturday, July 24 08:43:29| >> :600:169340:169340:
Oct 19, 2019 at 5pm UK at Stadio San Paolo (Napoli)
Attendance: 40,000
Hellas VeronaHellas Verona
Milik (37', 67')
FT(HT: 1-0)

Preview: Napoli vs. Hellas Verona - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Napoli's meeting with Hellas Verona in Serie A on Saturday, including predictions, team news and predicted lineups.

Napoli meet Hellas Verona in Serie A on Saturday knowing that dropping points at home would put a massive dent in the club's pursuit of league leaders Juventus.

Carlo Ancelotti's side already find themselves six points behind their Turin rivals following a shock defeat to Cagliari ahead of the international break.

Match preview

Carlo Ancelotti in charge of Napoli on August 4, 2018© Reuters

There is perhaps a feeling at Napoli that the club missed its chance to claim a first Scudetto since the days of Diego Maradona over the 2017-18 season, during which a side managed by Maurizio Sarri won the hearts of many with its football and finished on 91 points, still four behind Juventus.

Napoli also finished last season in second place but only managed 79 points - a good campaign but one which lacked the same stirring, aggressively positive football as seen with Sarri - and now find themselves behind Juventus, Inter Milan and Atalanta after seven games.

The core elements of that 2017-18 team remain, with Dries Mertens, Lorenzo Insigne, Allan, Fabian, Elseid Hysaj and Kalidou Koulibaly serving as the spine, but you suspect that the special chemistry engendered by Sarri's principled approach has started to fade away.

Indeed, it is symbolic that Sarri, a Neopolitan, has now taken the helm at Juventus and looks set to guide the Old Lady to their ninth successive Serie A triumph, while Napoli effectively face a fight to see who can be best of the rest.

At issue here is a deeper problem of top clubs across Europe - from Bayern Munich in Germany to BATE Borisov in Belarus - assuming a monopoly over the resources necessary for a successful title challenge, which in Napoli's case reflects a wider cultural disjunct between the rich north and the poor south in Italy.

It is this notion through which Napoli defines itself, as the more romantic, visceral force of nature in contrast with the inane wealth of their rivals from the north.

Napoli's Kalidou Koulibaly reacts after a missed chance against Chievo Verona on November 25, 2018© Reuters

The dynamic will be slightly different when Napoli welcome Verona, whose supporters bring a similar noise and colour to these occasions but have, not too long ago, found themselves embroiled in a racism saga which is looming over Italian football in an especially pronounced way this season.

On the pitch, Verona present an awkward, physical challenge away from home, commonly playing with a 3-4-1-2 system which focuses on pushing teams wide and moving the ball to key strikers Mariusz Stepinski and Samuel Di Carmine.

Having suffered relegation in 2018, Verona bounced back with promotion last season and currently find themselves in 10th spot having claimed a 2-0 win over Sampdoria last time out - a performance hallmarked by a level of acute organisation that has helped Verona only lose twice so far this term.

Those two defeats came against Juventus and AC Milan, with both being closely run affairs, and Napoli will be wary of the prospect of another battle against a highly driven side with nothing to lose at the San Paolo.

Recent Napoli form: WWLWDD
Recent Hellas Verona form: WLLDDL

Team News

Napoli's Elseid Hysaj in Serie A action with Genoa's Domenico Criscito on April 7, 2019© Reuters

Mario Rui has a chance of returning to the Napoli squad this weekend, although new signing Hirving Lozano is definitely out due to an ankle problem sustained over the international break.

Hysaj is another player likely to miss out due to an injury picked up while on international duty, while Nikola Maksimovic has been sidelined since last month.

For Verona, manager Ivan Juric continues to be without Emmanuel Agyemang-Badu, who was hospitalised in August due to a blood clot in his lungs.

Alessandro Crescenzi and Daniel Bessa are both nearing returns from respective thigh and groin problems, but it is unlikely that they will recover in time for the trip south to Naples.

Napoli possible starting lineup:
Meret; Malcuit, Koulibaly, Maksimovic, Ghoulam; Callejon, Allan, Fabian, Zielinski; Mertens, Llorente

Hellas Verona possible starting lineup:
Silvestri; Rrahmani, Dawidowicz, Gunter; Lazovic, Faraoni, Veloso, Amrabat; Verre, Zaccagni; Stepinski

Sports Mole Logo

We say: Napoli 1-0 Hellas Verona

Napoli have struggled in front of goal in recent times, failing to score in their last two outings, while Verona are showing themselves to be a difficult team to break down.

The home side could be in for a frustrating afternoon as they look to find space and may well suffer another goalless draw. However, buoyed by the home support and the need for points, Napoli should eventually get their goal.

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Carlo Ancelotti in charge of Napoli on August 4, 2018
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