MX23RW : Friday, July 30 16:10:02| >> :600:184645:184645:
Mar 21, 2021 at 7.45pm UK at Stadio Olimpico
RomaRoma
0-2
NapoliNapoli

Ibanez (26'), Mancini (45+1'), Diawara (59'), El Shaarawy (64'), Villar (85')
FT(HT: 0-2)
Mertens (27', 34')
Zielinski (47'), Koulibaly (78'), Osimhen (90+1')

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

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

Southern rivals Roma and Napoli clash in the traditional Sunday evening curtain-closer to another round of Serie A action, as the two top-four contenders convene in the capital.

The Giallorossi recovered from a shock defeat to lowly Parma last weekend to progress in Europe in midweek, while the visitors posted back-to-back wins with an impressive victory over Milan at San Siro.


Match preview

Roma manager Paulo Fonseca pictured in February 2021© Reuters

Locked together on 50 points apiece with their Neapolitan counterparts - though Napoli have one game in hand - Roma are hoping to get back on track in the league, after an inexplicable no-show against opponents who had previously failed to win in 17 matches saw them hauled back into the battle for European football next season.

Losing 2-0 to an admittedly much-improved Parma on Sunday was not the best preparation for a trip to Kiev for their Europa League last-16 second leg encounter with a mercurial Shakhtar Donetsk side. However, a three goal buffer from the first game in Rome aided Paulo Fonseca in easing his team to a 5-1 aggregate victory over his former club.

With an appealing quarter-final tie versus Dutch champions Ajax still to come, Roma must first address their achingly apparent shortcomings against the best teams currently in Calcio. Against the top five in Serie A, the Giallorossi have accumulated only three points from six matches so far in their otherwise impressive 2020-21 campaign - losing to the likes of Milan, Inter and Juventus, plus suffering a 4-0 thumping by Napoli last time they met.

As a combination of injuries and loss of form have slowed the previously unstoppable progress of integral goal-makers and takers such as star striker Edin Dzeko, spot-kick specialist Jordan Veretout and key creative hub Henrikh Mkhitaryan, the spotlight has been shifted onto the team's less solid defensive foundations.

Having lost five of their last eight Serie A matches against Napoli - including the most recent two - Fonseca's men could potentially lose three games in a row against the Azzurri for the first time since 1976 if they fail to avoid defeat on Sunday.

At the Olimpico, though, their performances have been consistently excellent and goals have still flowed freely. In all, Roma have racked up 33 points on home soil, including 10 wins and just a solitary defeat, leaving them behind only champions-elect Inter's league-leading record in that regard.

Napoli's Matteo Politano celebrates scoring against Real Sociedad in the Europa League in October 2020© Reuters

In another display of character and no little skill, the embattled Gennaro Gattuso led Napoli to a hard-earned triumph over his beloved Milan last weekend, further pushing his current club's claims as a top four contender, as Matteo Politano's second-half strike gave the visitors a precious victory at San Siro.

After previously losing six consecutive away games against teams in the top six places, the Partenopei's win ended a run of results when facing the league's big guns that have stopped them from sustaining a challenge for honours.

Following a wildly inconsistent period marked by injuries and intrigue - plus an extended media blackout - there have been three wins in the last four league outings for Gattuso's men, with in-form Politano now reaching eight goals this term and the influential Dries Mertens also coming back into the side.

In the absence of others - including Mertens, Victor Osimhen and Hirving Lozano, Naples-born captain Lorenzo Insigne has shouldered the burden of responsibility admirably, posting 13 goals and five assists to date and being at the beating heart of events in the final third.

At the age of 29, a player who is often criticised by fans and pundits for a lack of consistent output has cemented his claims for an important role in Roberto Mancini's Azzurri squad ahead of the Euros and kept his club in the mix for European qualification.

Now looking to complete the league double over Roma for the first time in a decade, Insigne and company are set for a challenging schedule either side of the international break, as after they meet the Giallorossi, they must also take on Juventus, Inter and Lazio before the end of next month. It is a period which could define their season and decide the destiny of their inspirational but idiosyncratic coach.

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

Roma form (all competitions):
  • L
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • L
  • W

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

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


Team News

Henrikh Mkhitaryan in action for Roma on January 3, 2021© Reuters

Roma's most productive players in front of goal, Henrikh Mkhitaryan (calf) and Jordan Veretout (thigh) will remain sidelined through injury, while defender Juan Jesus is in self-isolation with COVID-19 and wide man Bruno Peres is suspended.

Both Chris Smalling and Roger Ibanez are doubtful too, as the Giallorossi's defensive woes linger on, so Bryan Cristante should join Marash Kumbulla and Gianluca Mancini in the home team's back three.

In the absence of Mkhitaryan, two from Lorenzo Pellegrini, Stephan El Shaarawy and Pedro should start behind the lone striker, which could be Edin Dzeko, though Borja Mayoral bagged a brace in Ukraine on Thursday and is in possession of the shirt.

Heading into a critical phase of the season - albeit with the interruption of international commitments to come - Napoli's injury concerns show some signs of easing.

Centre-back Kostas Manolas, plus forwards Hirving Lozano and Andrea Petagna - both recovered from thigh strains - should be in contention to make the squad on Sunday, though Faouzi Ghoulam and Amir Rrahmani will not be ready in time and right-back Giovanni Di Lorenzo must serve a suspension.

Elseid Hysaj could cover Di Lorenzo's place in the back four, with Manolas a possible replacement for Nikola Maksimovic at centre-back. Again, coach Gennaro Gattuso must decide between fit-again pair Victor Osimhen and Dries Mertens for the central spot in attack.

Roma possible starting lineup:
Lopez; Mancini, Cristante, Ibanez; Karsdorp, Diawara, Pellegrini, Spinazzola; Pedro, El Shaarawy; Dzeko

Napoli possible starting lineup:
Ospina; Hysaj, Maksimovic, Koulibaly, Rui; Demme, Ruiz; Politano, Zielinski, Insigne; Mertens


SM words green background

We say: Roma 2-2 Napoli

As Roma have struggled to keep their composure versus their closest rivals in recent times - and Napoli often come up short against other members of the Serie A elite outside of their Naples stronghold - this well-balanced contest is a particularly tough one to call.

Though all four goals belonged to the Neapolitans last time they met, on this occasion, the two teams should share the spoils in what is likely to be a pulsating and highly-charged affair.



Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting a double chance bet on a home win or an away 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/Away:data


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How you voted: Roma vs Napoli

Roma
32.6%
Draw
24.8%
Napoli
42.6%
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Olympic medal table header
CountryGold medalSilver MedalBronze MedalT
ChinaChina1891138
JapanJapan174627
United StatesUnited States14161141
Olympics flagOlympic Athletes from Russia10141034
AustraliaAustralia921122
Great BritainGreat Britain69924
Today's Olympic highlights header

Saturday's key events


TRIATHLON
· After silvers in both the men's and women's events, Team GB will be fancied to get on the podium again in the mixed relay (11.30pm-1am)

SWIMMING
· Touted as Michael Phelps's successor, Caeleb Dressel already has two gold medals from these Games and he will be going for a third in the men's 50m butterfly final (2.30am)
· It is Katie Ledecky vs. Ariarne Titmus III in the women's 800m freestyle final, with Ledecky entering as firm favourite (2.46am)
· Great Britain will be heavily fancied to add another gold medal to their swimming haul, having produced by far the fastest qualifying time for the mixed 4x100m medley relay final (3.43am)

ATHLETICS
· Dina Asher-Smith is one of three British women in the 100m semi-finals (3.01am-3.20am), and will hope to challenge for a medal in what is likely to be a star-studded final (1.50pm)
· The inaugural Olympic 4x400m mixed relay event concludes with Great Britain one of the eight finalists going for gold (1.35pm)

RUGBY SEVENS
· Team GB's dreams of an unlikely gold are still alive in the women's event as they face France in their semi-final (3.30am). The winners will face either New Zealand or Fiji in the gold medal match later in the day (10am)

SAILING
· Gold medals are up for grabs in the windsurfer - RS:X finals. Emma Wilson participates for Team GB in the women's final (6.33am), while Tom Squires is in action in the men's (7.33am)

TENNIS
· Following his shock semi-final defeat, ending his hopes of a Golden Slam in 2021, Novak Djokovic battles for bronze against Pablo Carreno Busta (7am)
· The women's singles event reaches its conclusion with the gold medal match between Belinda Bencic and Marketa Vondrousova

> Today's schedule in full
Todays Game Header Right
Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Atalanta BCAtalanta00000000
2Bologna00000000
3CagliariCagliari00000000
4Empoli00000000
5Fiorentina00000000
6Genoa00000000
7Hellas VeronaHellas Verona00000000
8Inter Milan00000000
9Juventus00000000
10Lazio00000000
11AC Milan00000000
12Napoli00000000
13Roma00000000
14Salernitana00000000
15Sampdoria00000000
16SassuoloSassuolo00000000
17SpeziaSpezia00000000
18Torino00000000
19Udinese00000000
20VeneziaVenezia00000000

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