Serie A leaders Napoli host high-flying Sassuolo at the Stadio San Paolo on Saturday night as they look to consolidate their position at the top of the table. Maurizio Sarri’s men head into the fixture with four wins on the trot which saw them finish as winter champions with 41 points from 19 games. Meanwhile Sassuolo are themselves enjoying an impressive campaign and are currently in sixth position with a game in hand. Sassuolo are unbeaten in the last five games and they recorded a win against Napoli in the corresponding fixture this season.

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Maurizio Sarri v Eusebio Di Francesco

Both managers recorded 3-1 wins against each other last season when Sarri was the manager of Empoli. This season Di Francesco has already won the first duel in the very first game of the season.

Sarri is well aware of Sassuolo’s giant-killing potential

Bologna FC vs SSC NapoliNapoli will head into the game with a full strength squad. The team will look to build their attacks from the back which means Jorginho will once again have a busy evening. The furious pressing is one of the strongest attributes of Sarri’s team and this deep pressing high up the pitch in the final third has paid off so far, particularly in their convincing away win at Milan.

The defence has improved a lot compared to last season although Defrel will be a threat for Koulibaly and co. The wingbacks usually play a big role in Sarri’s system keeping the defence compact while adding an extra dimension in attack. Upfront Napoli have arguably one of the hottest strikers in Europe with Argentine bomber Gonzalo Higuain.

Di Francesco’s Positive Approach Getting the Best from Sassuolo Squad

US Sassuolo Calcio vs Atalanta BergamoEusebio Di Francesco will be forced to make two significant changes in the starting lineup as former Napoli captain Paolo Cannavaro and Sassuolo’s talisman Domenico Berardi are unavailable after picking up yellow cards against Inter. Sassuolo will go with their preferred 4-3-3 formation with the impressive Frenchman Grégoire Defrel as the target-man while Nicola Sansone and Antonio Floro Flores taking up the creative duties behind him.

Skipper Francesco Magnanelli will be given the task of disrupting the midfield of Napoli and they should continue the positive approach which has so far yielded positive results. The victory against Inter may have come with a last minute penalty but Di Francesco’s side went all out for the win from the first whistle and deservingly got the three points. The same approach will be expected for tonight’s game as well.

Key Battles

Gonzalo Higuaín v Andrea Consigli

Frosinone-NapoliThe battle between Consigli’s reflexes and Higuain’s finishing is expected to be one of the key duels of the night, as both men have been brilliant in recent weeks and a fascinating contest awaits.

Allan v Alfred Duncan

US Sassuolo Calcio vs Atalanta Bergamo
Both players have been crucial in holding their side’s midfield together since the start of the season. While Duncan provides more energetic presence when running forward, Allan’s presence in the centre of the pitch has been invaluable for Sarri’s Napoli. Both the players add pace and agility in the middle of the park and this will be the most evenly-matched battle to keep an eye on.

Lorenzo Insigne v Šime Vrsaljko

Verona vs NapoliThe Croatian right-back has been solid recently, putting in confident performances which have led many top clubs fighting for his signature next summer. On Saturday night he will come up against Insigne who has been in scintillating form at the start of the campaign. The battle of the two men might just go some way to deciding the outcome of this clash.

SSC Napoli strengths and weaknesses

SSC Napoli vs Hellas Verona

  • Napoli deservingly lead the table at the halfway stage of this enthralling Serie A season and have played the best football in Italy. The balance between the skillful exuberance and defensive pragmatism has led them to the summit and they have everything to go all the way.
  • The porous defence of previous years is now a thing of the past.
  • However Sarri’s team are not flawless. This season they have struggled to absorb pressure after taking the lead as witnessed in the game against Inter Milan.

U.S. Sassuolo Calcio strengths and weaknesses

Sassuolo vs Frosinone

  • Sassuolo’s impressive form this season has been mainly down to their organization and willingness to sacrifice for each other.
  • They will give their all till the final whistle and Napoli will have to give their best for the entire 90 minutes. The pressure to maintain their position as the leader is another thing which will be a worry for Sarri.
  • Many players in this team are not experienced enough to handle the pressure and Sarri will be trying to maintain a calm atmosphere as their quest to claim a historic Scudetto continues.

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