A. S. Roma
Stadio San Paolo, Naples
Sunday, 13th December, 2015, 1700 UKT
Third place S. S. C. Napoli take on fourth place A. S. Roma at the Stadio San Paolo in Matchday 16 of the Italian Serie A.
Napoli come into the match against A S Roma on the back of a disappointing 3-2 defeat to struggling Bologna last Sunday. Maurizio Sarri’s side were brought crashing down to earth a week after he guided the Naples club to the top of Serie A for the first time since the days of Diego Maradona in 1990. The Partenopei manager will be hoping to inspire his troops to regain their position at the helm of the league table by beating 4th placed A. S. Roma on Sunday.
Despite being placed 4th in the Italian Serie A and having qualified for the final 16 of the UEFA Champions League, Rudi Garcia finds himself under immense pressure at the hot seat of the capital club. Garcia’s Roma side have failed to record a single win since they overcame derby rivals Lazio 2-0 in the Derby della Capitale on 8th November. They will be hoping to get back to winning ways when they take on a rampaging Napoli side at the intimidating cauldron that is Stadio Sao Paolo.
Team News and Tactics
S. S. C. Napoli
Maurizio Sarri’s Napoli side come into Sunday’s encounter with Roma on the back of an unbeaten home record in the league this season.
Maurizio Sarri will most likely put out the same lineup that lost to Bologna last Sunday. Former Liverpool goal keeper Pepe Reina is expected retain his place between the sticks against Roma on Sunday.
Napoli’s back four comprising of Hysaj, Albiol, Koulibaly and Ghoulam have been a revelation at the back for Sarri this season. Only Inter Milan (9) and Juventus (11) have conceded lesser goals than the Napoli back line this season.
Club captain Marek Hamsik is expected to start alongside Allan and Jorginho as Napoli’s 3 man midfield. On fire Gonzalo Higuain will be flanked by Jose Maria Callejon and Lorenzo Insigne to complete Napoli’s front three.
Probable Starting XI (4-3-3): Reina; Hysaj, Albiol, Koulibaly, Ghoulam; Allan, Jorginho, Hamsik; Callejon, Higuain, Insigne.
A. S. Roma
A. S. Roma have the worst defence record amongst the top 7 sides in the Serie A at the moment having conceded an astonishing 18 goals in 15 matches this season. Polish goalkeeper Wojciech Szcz sny will continue in goal for the Galliarossi having kept just 2 clean sheets all season.
Florenzi, Manolas, Rudiger and Digne will most likely be deployed as Roma’s back four against Napoli on Sunday. Miralem Pjanic, who has been Roma’s only bright spot in midfield this season, will accompany club captain Daniele De Rossi and Belgian destroyer Radja Nainggolan in front of defence for Rudi Garcia’s side.
Bosnian striker Edin Dzeko will lead the line for Roma at the Sao Paolo alongside the returning Mohamed Salah. Salah returned to training this week after a one month injury layoff. Gervinho is a doubt for the match and is expected to be replaced by Iago Falque in Roma’s starting line up.
Probable Starting XI (4-3-3): Szczesny; Florenzi, Manolas, Rudiger, Digne; Pjanic, De Rossi, Nainggolan; Salah, Dzeko, Falque.
- There has been perfect balance over the last 12 Serie A meetings between these two sides: five wins apiece and two draws.
- However, Napoli have won four of their last five home league matches against Roma (one loss), including each of the last three.
- Napoli are one of two sides still unbeaten at home in Serie A this season, along with Sassuolo: the Partenopei drew the first game against Sampdoria and have won all the following six.
- Roma are winless in the last three Serie A match-days (D2 L1), and have conceded goals in 11 of their last 12 league fixtures.
- Rudi Garciaa s side are without a win in their last three away league games: the last time that the Giallorossi failed to win for four consecutive games on the road in Serie A was in January 2014.
- Roma have netted 13 goals in eight league games away from home, more than any other side in the Serie A 2015-16.
- Gonzalo Higua n has scored 14 league goals so far this season: the last player to score 14+ in the opening 15 Serie A match-days was Luca Toni in 2005-06 (16 goals).
Player to watch out for:
Gonzalo Higuain (Napoli)
Central to Napolia s dominance this season is the goal scoring form of El Pipita. Higuain has scored 14 goals so far for Napoli this season and the Partenopei faithful will be hoping he does so yet against the capital club on Sunday.
Higuain endured a torrid time in the aftermath of the Copa America in the summer, where his missed penalty cost Argentina their first major trophy since 1993. But he has bounced back in remarkable style to propel Napoli to the upper echelons of the Serie A table this season.
If Higuain can continue his excellent goal scoring form, Napoli will fancy their chances of a comfortable win against Rudi Garcia’s A S Roma side.
S. S. C. Napoli 3 – 1 A. S. Roma
Barring the 2-2 draw with Sampdoria on 31st August, Napoli have won all their home matches in the Serie A this season, recording victories over Juventus, Fiorentina, Inter Milan and Lazio in the process. As pointed out earlier, Roma have not won a Serie A match since early November and Rudi Garcia’s side will find it difficult to contain Sarri’s rampaging Napoli side at the Stadio Sao Paolo on Sunday. Napoli’s red hot striker Gonzalo Higuain will be expected to get on the scoresheet against a Roma defence that has conceded 18 goals in the league this season. A comfortable 3-1 home win for the Naples club is the outcome predicted by TheHardTackle.