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Apr 4, 2015 at 11.30am UK at Stadio Olimpico
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Preview: Roma vs. Napoli

Sports Mole looks ahead to the vital Serie A clash between Champions League hopefuls Roma and Napoli at the Stadio Olimpico.

Two of Italian football's biggest clubs will go head to head on Saturday in a vital clash as Roma welcome Napoli to the Stadio Olimpico.

They were both expected to be in the hunt for the Serie A title, but now the main focus for each team is securing a place in next season's Champions League.


AS Roma French coach Rudi Garcia gestures during their Italian Serie A football match against Sampdoria in Rome's Olympic stadium on February 16, 2014© Getty Images

At the start of the season, there were many people who were tipping Roma to end the three-year stranglehold that Juventus have held over the rest of the country.

They had a strong start to the campaign and by the start of January a 1-0 win over Udinese had drawn them level with the Bianconeri at the top of the table.

However, in the 11 league games following that victory at the Stadio Friuli, they have won just twice, with both of those victories coming against clubs in the bottom three.

Roma may have suffered only one defeat since the turn of the year, but a huge number of draws has seen them slip 14 points behind league leaders Juventus.

It is not just their title aspirations that have taken a blow, as their firm grip on second place is under threat from city rivals Lazio, who now sit just a point behind them.

A big worry for Rudi Garcia will be his team's recent home record, as they have not won in the league at the Stadio Olimpico since last November.

Their last two games in Rome have ended in defeat, with a 3-0 hammering by Fiorentina knocking them out of the Europa League shortly before the international break, which has heightened the discontent of the supporters even further.

Recent form in Serie A: DDDDLW
Recent form (all competitions): DDDLLW


Rafael Benitez of Napoli looks on during the Emirates Cup match between Napoli and FC Porto at the Emirates Stadium on August 4, 2013© Getty Images

Napoli have also been going through a difficult spell and they went through the whole of March without recording a league win.

Things could have been a lot worse for them in their previous outing before the international break, as a late goal from Duvan Zapata rescued a point against 10-man Atalanta.

That result saw them fall to fifth place in the table and five points away from the final Champions League qualification spot.

Manager Rafael Benitez has come under a huge amount of pressure in recent weeks and speculation is beginning to mount over his future with the club.

Although their league form has taken a dip, they are well placed to reach the Coppa Italia final after earning a 1-1 draw away to Lazio in their semi-final first leg and they are also in the last eight of the Europe League, where they will take on Bundesliga high-fliers Wolfsburg.

Recent form in Serie A: LWLDLD
Recent form (all competitions): DDWLDD

Team News

AS Roma's forward of Ivory Coast Gervinho controls the ball against Juventus during their Coppa Italia football match, on January 21 , 2014 © Getty Images

Roma will be unable to call on the services of Gervinho, who has been ruled out for the next three weeks after picking up a hamstring injury on international duty.

There are also doubts surrounding the fitness of captain Francesco Totti. He has not appeared in the Giallorossi's last two games and has been unable to train this week due to a flexor tendon injury.

Victor Ibarbo has been heavily tipped to start and he will be battling fellow January arrival Seydou Doumbia for a place in the attack.

Napoli have no fresh injury worries, but long-term absentee Michu is still ruled out after ankle surgery and Gokhan Inler will sit the game out through suspension.

Lorenzo Insigne has recovered from the cruciate ligament injury that he suffered last November and he could make an appearance, having been named on the bench in recent weeks.

Roma possible starting lineup:
De Sanctis, Florenzi, Manolas, Astori, Holebas, Pjanic, De Rossi, Nainggolan, Ljajic, Iturbe, Ibarbo

Napoli possible starting lineup:
Andujar, Maggio, Albiol, Koulibaly, Ghoulam, Gargano, Lopez, Hamsik, Gabbiadini, Callejon, Higuain

Head To Head

In the reverse fixture last November, it was Napoli who claimed the points as goals from Gonzalo Higuain and Jose Callejon helped them to a 2-0 win.

The Azzurri have actually won the three previous meetings between the teams and Callejon has found the net on each occasion.

However, it is Roma who have the best overall record against their opponents, with 52 wins from their previous clashes, compared to Napoli's 41 victories.

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We say: Roma 1-1 Napoli

With so much at stake for each club, a defeat for either team could be disastrous. They are both in poor form and are now clinging on to their hopes of reaching the Champions League. It should be a tight match and with very little to separate the teams we think that this one could end in a draw.

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Anthony Reveillere of Napoli during the Serie A match between SSC Napoli and AC Chievo Verona at Stadio San Paolo on January 25, 2014
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