MX23RW : Monday, April 19 04:50:36| >> :600:3662082:3662082:
Mar 7, 2021 at 7.45pm UK at Stadio Diego Armando Maradona
NapoliNapoli
3-1
BolognaBologna
Insigne (8', 76'), Osimhen (65')
Koulibaly (52'), Rui (85')
FT(HT: 1-0)
Soriano (73')

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

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

Inconsistent Napoli will seek to get their pursuit of Champions League qualification back on track this Sunday, as they host mid-table Bologna in the aftermath of one of the most extraordinary encounters of the Serie A season.

An action-packed conclusion to their midweek fixture ultimately saw the sixth-placed Azzurri fall further behind the clubs above them, while the visitors came away empty-handed from a sojourn to Sardinia.


Match preview

Napoli's Lorenzo Insigne celebrates scoring their first goal on January 10, 2021© Reuters

Coming into this weekend's assignment shortly after playing their part in surely one of the games of the season, Napoli will have little time to reflect on an extraordinary draw at the Mapei Stadium during the week.

In a frantic finale, two late penalties were awarded (one for either side; Sassuolo's coming in the sixth minute of injury time), the hosts struck the woodwork twice and Napoli had a goal disallowed, so a 3-3 result was perhaps the fairest outcome in the end.

Not that the Neapolitans' skipper Lorenzo Insigne - who thought he had converted a 90th-minute winner from the spot - saw it that way. Inexplicably, the returning Kostas Manolas, possibly still short of fitness, bundled Lukas Haraslin over in the box to gift the Neroverdi an equaliser with just seconds to play and Insigne reacted with visible fury.

Due to an ongoing media blackout, which has been in place since Napoli's defeat to Atalanta a fortnight ago, the forward's expletive-filled rant as he left the pitch was the only public reaction offered by Gennaro Gattuso's frustrated side.

In the frequent absence of others through injury and illness, Insigne is currently the club's leading scorer on 10 league goals and, incidentally, no player in Serie A has scored the opening goal more times (seven) than the fans' local hero this season.

However, his team's recent infuriating inconsistency can be summed up by a glance at their record in the last eight games, which have seen them win four times while keeping a clean sheet but also lose on three occasions; conceding at least twice each time.

Nevertheless, Insigne's old partner in crime Dries Mertens has finally returned to action of late and this week's opponents have been his favourite target throughout a goal-filled Calcio career - the Belgian striker has scored 11 goals in 12 top-flight matches against Bologna so far.

Napoli have also won five of their last seven versus the Rossoblu on home turf and will expect to improve that streak still further on Sunday.

Bologna coach Sinisa Mihajlovic pictured in January 2021© Reuters

Previously unbeaten in four league games, Bologna fell to a 1-0 defeat away to Cagliari on Wednesday evening, as the relegation-threatened home side continued to benefit from the 'new manager effect' at the Sardegna Arena.

Sinisa Mihajlovic's side had been one of only four clubs to go unbeaten in the top flight throughout February, with league leaders Inter the only team to concede fewer goals than Bologna's tally of two last month.

Now in 12th place in the Serie A standings, at an eight-point distance from the relegation zone, the Felsinei will therefore have been exasperated to follow up a fine win over Lazio with such an underwhelming display versus more modest opposition.

Following last year's unwanted record of 41 consecutive games without a clean sheet, it is clear that Mihajlovic has shored up his back line, but his chief concerns remain in attack, where Musa Barrow is the only striker to have reached five goals for the club.

Ahead of the trip to Naples this weekend, their paucity of penalty-box prowess has seen the Emilian outfit post only two away wins in the 2020-21 campaign to date - only Crotone and Fiorentina have a lower points percentage on the road.

Napoli Serie A form:
  • W
  • L
  • W
  • L
  • W
  • D

Napoli form (all competitions):
  • W
  • L
  • L
  • W
  • W
  • D

Bologna Serie A form:
  • L
  • W
  • D
  • D
  • W
  • L


Team News

Napoli's Victor Osimhen reacts on January 24, 2021© Reuters

Napoli forward Victor Osimhen returned to full training on Friday and should be fit for at least a place on the bench against Bologna. After recovering from a head injury suffered in the defeat to Atalanta last month - following a previous shoulder problem and time out with COVID-19 - the Nigeria international can now contest the centre-forward's spot with Dries Mertens.

Both Andrea Petagna and Hirving Lozano remain out of commission, but Kostas Manolas returned as a substitute in midweek - to calamitous effect - though may not yet be ready to reclaim his position at the heart of the home side's defence. If selected, he would line up alongside the returning Kalidou Koulibaly, who was suspended for the defensive disaster show versus Sassuolo.

For the visitors, midfield regular Jerdy Schouten must serve a suspension, while his fellow engine room operative Nicolas Dominguez came off injured in Cagliari and his fitness will be assessed ahead of kickoff.

Takehiro Tomiyasu (calf), Andri Baldursson (thigh) and Aaron Hickey (shoulder) are all closing in on a return but are not expected to feature on Sunday. Therefore, Lorenzo De Silvestri and Ibrahima Mbaye will continue to deputise in the full-back roles, given the lack of other options for Bologna coach Sinisa Mihajlovic.

Again, there will be a four-way tussle for two places in support of lone striker Musa Barrow, with the choice being between Nicola Sansone, Riccardo Orsolini, Emanuel Vignato and Andreas Skov Olsen.

Napoli possible starting lineup:
Ospina; Di Lorenzo, Rrahmani, Koulibaly, Ghoulam; Ruiz, Demme; Politano, Zielinski, Insigne; Mertens

Bologna possible starting lineup:
Skorupski; De Silvestri, Soumaoro, Danilo, Mbaye; Poli, Svanberg; Orsolini, Soriano, Sansone; Barrow


SM words green background

We say: Napoli 2-0 Bologna

If they can shake off the disappointment - and instead channel the anger - from their costly climax in midweek, Napoli are more than capable of putting even an improving Bologna side to the sword.

As the visitors' lame away form has undermined their hopes of a top-half finish, the Partneopei can take advantage of an anaemic opposing attack to press forward and seal the win.



Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting a home win in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Home Win:data


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Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly pictured in October 2020
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