Third-placed Napoli will look to reduce the gap at the top of the Serie A table, when they face off against Genoa away from home on Saturday night.

Napoli will travel to the Stadio Luigi Ferraris as they gear up to lock horns with Genoa in matchweek 12 of the 2018-19 Serie A at on Saturday.

Carlo Ancelotti’s side are currently seated third in the Serie A standings with 25 points from 11 matches, six points off of leaders Juventus. The Partenopei are on a seven-match unbeaten run in all competitions and come into the game on the back of a 1-1 draw against Paris Saint-Germain in the UEFA Champions League earlier this week.

With Juventus scheduled to take on AC Milan on Sunday, the contest against Genoa offers Napoli a great chance to cut down the lead at the top of the table and keep up the pressure on the reigning champions by grabbing all three points at the Marassi.

Genoa, on the other hand, find themselves in the 13th spot in the standings, having accrued just 14 points from their 11 matches this season. Having sacked Davide Ballardini last month, Il Grifone appointed Ivan Juric as their new manager, but things haven’t begun all that well for the Croatian.

While Juric did lead Genoa to a 1-1 draw against Juventus in his opening game, the Rossoblu remain winless in his four matches in charge (D2, L2) and were hammered 5-0 by Inter Milan last weekend. Amid reports that club president Enrico Preziosi is considering another managerial change, Juric and his team are under pressure to deliver a victory on Saturday.

Team News & Tactics

Genoa

The home team are set to welcome back captain Domenico Criscito, who was suspended for the defeat against Inter due to accumulation of cards. However, they will continue to be without the services of Sandro, while Andrea Favilli, Nicolas Spolli and Federico Marchetti also remain sidelined.

The under-pressure Juric is unlikely to make any major tweaks to the 3-4-1-2 formation or to his preferred personnel when Napoli come visiting on Saturday. 21-year-old Andrei Ionut Radu should continue between the sticks for Genoa. He will be protected by a back three comprising of Davide Biraschi, Koray Gunter and the returning Criscito.

On-loan defender Pedro Pereira will take up the wing-back slot on the right-hand side, while Darko Lazovic is expected to line up on the opposite flank. Summer signing Romulo is an ever present in the middle of the park and is likely to be paired up with Miguel Veloso in the absence of Sandro.

24-year-old Daniel Bessa, on loan from Hellas Verona, will take up the playmaking duties for Il Grifone, operating in the No.10 role. Star man Krzysztof Piatek did not start last weekend against Inter, but should come back into the team ahead of Goran Pandev. Christian Kouame is expected to partner the Polish striker at the top of the attack.

Probable Lineup (3-4-1-2): Radu; Biraschi, Gunter, Criscito; Pereira, Romulo, Veloso, Lazovic; Bessa; Piatek, Kouame;

Napoli

Belgian international Dries Mertens picked up a knock in the midweek encounter against PSG, but is expected to be fit and available for Saturday’s match. Simone Verdi is back in training, but is unlikely to rushed back into action, while Vlad Chiriches remains a long-term absentee for the Neapolitans.

The 4-4-2 system that Ancelotti has implemented at the club is reaping rewards for Napoli and is unlikely to be altered for the trip to the Luigi Ferraris. David Ospina was overlooked for the 5-1 win over Empoli in the league last weekend, but did start against PSG. He should continue between the sticks ahead of Orestis Karnezis on Saturday night.

At right-back Elseid Hysaj is set to return to the lineup after Nikola Maksimovic featured in the midweek game, while Mario Rui is expected to hold on to his spot in the left side of the backline. The experienced Raul Albiol and the man-mountain Kalidou Koulibaly are guaranteed starters at the heart of the defence.

Jose Callejon has registered eight assists in 13 matches across all competitions this term and should continue on the right flank, while Piotr Zielinski could be in for a start on the left side, having made a substitute appearance in the midweek game. He will replace Fabian Ruiz, while Allan and captain Marek Hamsik are set to continue in the middle of the park.

Upfront, despite no concerns over Mertens’ fitness, he is likely to be benched with Arkadiusz Milik expected to get the nod alongside the in-form man Lorenzo Insigne, who has already bagged 10 goals in all competitions this season.

Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Ospina; Hysaj, Albiol, Koulibaly, Rui; Callejon, Allan, Hamsik, Zielinski; Milik, Insigne;

Key Stats

  • Napoli are unbeaten in their last 12 Serie A matches against Genoa (W9 D3).
  • Genoa have picked up just two points from their last five Serie A games (D2 L3) – their longest winless run since September 2017.
  • Five of the last eight Serie A goals Napoli have scored have come after the 80th minute of matches – only Inter Milan have scored more goals in that period of Serie A matches (nine).
  • Genoa last won at home in the Serie A against Napoli in January 2012 (3-2).
  • Napoli have kept a clean sheet in four of their last six Serie A meetings against Genoa.

Player to Watch

Krzysztof Piatek (Genoa)

The New Lewandowski? (Picture Courtesy - AFP/Getty Images)

The New Lewandowski? (Picture Courtesy – AFP/Getty Images)

The leading goalscorer in the 2018-19 Serie A with 9 strikes against his name in 11 matches, Piatek’s excellent start to the season generated a lot of buzz across Europe, with the likes of Real Madrid and Barcelona taking an interest in the striker.

However, the hype seems to have died down a bit over the past month, as Piatek has gone without a goal for four games in a row now, with his last goal for Genoa coming in the 3-1 defeat to Parma back on the 7th of October. Indeed, the 23-year-old was benched for the Rossoblu’s last league game against Inter.

Dubbed ‘the new Lewandowski’, the Polish striker will need to get back to firing on all cylinders if Genoa are to stand any chance of ending their five-match winless run and pick up all three points against Napoli this weekend.

Prediction

Genoa 1-3 Napoli

Since their defeat to Juventus back in September, Napoli haven’t lost a single game across all competitions and go into the weekend encounter high on confidence after impressive results against Empoli and PSG over the last week.

Genoa, on the other hand, are under intense pressure after having picked up just two points from their last five league games. However, they did show in the draw against Juventus last month that they have the mettle to step up when required.

Ancelotti is likely to make a few changes to the team that started against PSG, but that is unlikely to upset their form and rhythm. While they did lose to Sampdoria on their previous visit to the Stadio Luigi Ferraris in September, their recent record against Genoa is impeccable. And as a result, we at The Hard Tackle, expect the Partenopei to bag an easy win on Saturday.