Napoli will begin their 2020/21 Serie A campaign with a trip to Stadio Ennio Tardini, where they will face off against Parma.

Napoli will be looking to kickstart the new season on a winning note, when they lock horns with Parma at Stadio Ennio Tardini in matchweek one of the 2020/21 Serie A on Sunday.

Even though they won the Coppa Italia, the 2019/20 campaign ended on a disappointing note for Napoli as they finished seventh in the table – their worst position in 11 years. And manager Gennaro Gattuso will be aiming to guide them back towards the top end of the table.

As far as preparations are concerned, the Partenopei have won both their friendlies against Teramo and Pescara 4-0 and will be aiming to carry forward the momentum on Sunday.

Parma showed slight improvement in terms of their league finish last season. They ended the campaign in the 11th spot, three places higher than what they had achieved upon promotion in 2018/19. Having replaced Roberto D’Aversa with Fabio Liverani as the manager, they will be aiming to break into the top half of the table this season.

I Crociati have played four pre-season friendlies, winning three of those (L1), scoring nine goals while letting in only two. Parma beat Napoli 2-1 in both their Serie A fixtures last season and they will look to continue to extend that run this weekend. And ahead of this match-up from the Ennio Tardini, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at both teams.

Team News & Tactics

Parma

New manager Fabio Liverani will go into the game without the services of Riccardo Gagliolo, who is out with an injury, while Jasmin Kurtic misses out due to suspension. Dejan Kulusevski has completed his move to Juventus this summer and his presence in the final third will be missed by the hosts.

Liverani is expected to set his team up in his preferred 4-3-1-2 formation in front of goalkeeper Luigi Sepe, who has joined on a permanent basis from Napoli. Mattio Darmian and Guiseppe Pezzella are expected to slot in as the full-backs with Simone Iacoponi and captain Bruno Alves pairing up at the centre.

Gaston Brugman is likely to occupy the deepest position in the centre of the park and look to shield the defence. He will have support from fellow defensive midfielder Hernani, while former Napoli man Alberto Grassi will take up the third spot and look to support the team during the attacking phases.

Juraj Kucka will slot in as the attacking midfielder for the hosts and look to create openings for the two forwards, who ought to be Andreas Cornelius and Roberto Inglese, who has made his transfer from Napoli permanent.

Probable Lineup (4-3-1-2): Sepe; Darmian, Iacoponi, Alves, Pezzella; Hernani, Brugman, Grassi; Kucka; Inglese, Cornelius

Napoli

Napoli do not have any major injury concerns either, with Kevin Malcuit the only player unavailable for Gennaro Gattuso. Jose Callejon has left the club and is a free agent, while Allan has joined Premier League side Everton. The Partenopei have strengthened the attack with the signing of Victor Osimhen though.

Gattuso is expected set his side up in a 4-3-3 setup with David Ospina likely to be preferred in goal over Alex Meret. Giovanni Di Lorenzo should slot in at right-back, while Mario Rui is expected to get the nod on the left. Kostas Manolas should start at the heart of the backline alongside Kalidou Koulibaly, who continues to be linked with Manchester City.

Diego Demme ought to pip Stanislav Lobotka for the holding midfield role for the visitors against Parma. Partnering him in the middle of the park will be Piotr Zielinski and Fabian Ruiz, who will act as the primary creative outlet for Napoli.

Matteo Politano should get the nod on the right flank now that Callejon has left the club. On the opposite wing, there is no looking past the ever-impressive Lorenzo Insigne. And spearheading the attack should be new signing Osimhen, to make his Serie A debut.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Ospina; Di Lorenzo, Manolas, Koulibaly, Rui; Ruiz, Demme, Zielinski; Politano, Osimhen, Insigne

Key Stats

  • Napoli have started the season with an away match in each of the last six Serie A seasons. The Partenopei have won each of their past three season openers.
  • Parma and Napoli have faced each other on the first matchday of the season on just one occasion, in 1996/97. The Crociati came out as 3-0 winners.
  • This will be the 37th Serie A meeting between Parma and Napoli and the 19th at the Ennio Tardini. Of the previous 18 encounters at the stadium, Parma have won nine, whereas Napoli have won six (D3).
  • Parma striker Andreas Cornelius bagged twelve goals in Serie A last season. The last Crociati player to do better in a single league campaign was Sebastian Giovinco in 2011/12 (15).
  • Napoli are unbeaten in their last eight matches in Serie A that kicked off at 12:30 (W7 D1).

Player to Watch

Victor Osimhen

Can Victor Osimhen mark his debut for Napoli with a goal? (Photo by JOSE JORDAN/AFP via Getty Images)

Can Victor Osimhen mark his debut for Napoli with a goal? (Photo by JOSE JORDAN/AFP via Getty Images)

The Nigerian had enjoyed a fine 2019/20 campaign with Lille, finishing with 18 goals and 6 assists in 38 games in all competitions. And Napoli managed to beat the likes of Arsenal and Liverpool to sign Osimhen in a deal reported to be worth €50 million.

With Dries Mertens not getting any younger and Arkadiusz Milik’s future at the club uncertain, Osimhen will be Napoli’s first-choice centre-forward moving forward. Given the outlay, the Serie A outfit will be hoping that the 21-year-old will hit the ground running on Sunday and lead the team to a victory.

Prediction

Parma 1-2 Napoli

Parma did an unlikely double over Napoli last season and have been in good touch in the pre-season. However, under a new manager, the players will still be getting used to the tactics and the new roles.

Napoli, too, have fared well in their pre-season friendly encounters and with Gattuso having had plenty of time with the team now, are looking like a well-oiled unit. That, coupled with the overall quality of the squad, should help them see out a victory in their first game of the season.

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