Serie A will see two of Italy’s best teams from the country’s southern region collide when Roma host the high-flying Napoli at the Stadio Olimpico on Sunday.
Napoli are at the top of the pile with 26 points, while Roma will start the match only four behind the league leaders. A Derby del Sole will boost both of the team’s title credentials.
Napoli on a red hot streak
Napoli have emerged as a nearly unstoppable force this season under Luciano Spalletti.
The Partenopei have been on a 10-match winning streak across all competitions.
The last time they enjoyed a bigger winning run was when a certain Diego Armando Maradona used to play in the Napoli shirt. A win at the Italian capital will help them match their record winning streak of 11 matches which they set in 1986.
But it always has not been a walk in the park for the Neapolitans this season. Bologna threatened to end Napoli’s winning run in front of the Napoli faithful, but a 69th-minute strike from Victor Osimhen drew the line between the two sides in a 3-2 affair.
Goals have been thick on the ground for Napoli this season.
They have found the opposition net 25 times in 10 Serie A matches and an unbelievable 17 times in only four Champions League matches.
Napoli’s league haul of 25 goals can only be matched by Bayern Munich in Bundesliga. However, no other teams have scored more goals than the two-time Italian champions in the Champions League so far.
Their closest competitor is once again Bayern Munich, who have scored 13 times in Europe this season.
Roma in 4th position
Roma have not been the dominant side lately in the Derby del Sole.
The Giallorossi have been victorious only once in their last eight encounters with Napoli. They will have to look as far back as November 2019 to relive their last win against their southern rivals.
José Mourinho could not make Roma return to winning ways after taking the reigns of the club last season. But under the decorated Portuguese manager’s watch, Roma have been undefeated against Napoli.
Mourinho’s men returned with a 1-0 away win from Sampdoria last weekend, thanks to a decisive Lorenzo Pellegrini penalty. It was Roma’s seventh win in the league this season and kept Roma fourth in the league ahead of defending Serie A champions AC Milan.
However, Roma’s poor record against the league’s top sides casts a shadow of doubt over their ability to mount a significant title challenge. They did not win any of their last 12 matches against teams holding top positions.
Roma will be keen to buck the trend on Sunday when they take on Napoli and establish themselves as a genuine contender for the Serie A crown.
Luciano Spalletti will have to choose between Giacomo Raspadori and Giovanni Simeone, as Victor Osimhen has returned to full fitness.
All three forwards are in excellent form. So, it will be a big dilemma for the 63-year-old tactician.
André-Frank Zambo Anguissa has returned to training but might not get the nod to start yet. Spalletti will have to make do without his first-choice centre-back Amir Rrahmani once again, as he is out with a long-term abductor muscle injury.
Roma’s star forward Paulo Dybala finds himself in a race against time to regain fitness before the World Cup.
The Argentina international is only one of the names in Roma’s list of long-term absentees.
Marash Kumbulla, Zeki Celik, and Georginio Wijnaldum make up the rest of the list.
Nicolò Zaniolo is on a three-match suspension in Europe after seeing a red card in Roma’s Europa League clash with Real Betis. But he will be available for Serie A matches and will likely partner Tammy Abraham up front.
Both of the last two meetings between these two teams ended on level terms. But Napoli’s flamboyant form makes us believe they will bag another away win at Stadio Olimpico. We are expecting a 2-1 win for Napoli.