AS Roma vs Napoli: Three key players to look out for

The Hard Tackle lists three players who can have a positive impact in the game between AS Roma and Napoli on Saturday.

Saturday is the final day of Serie A action before we take a break for a few days for Christmas. The day will serve us six fixtures, with the action ending at Stadio Olimpico, where AS Roma will host struggling champions Napoli.

AS Roma and Napoli are two struggling giants in Serie A this season, with a place in the top four eluding them thus far. The visitors, in particular, have made a mockery of their status as the Serie A champions, trailing the table-topping Inter Milan by a whopping 14 points.

So, a second successive Serie A title triumph appears unlikely for the Partenopei this season. As for AS Roma, Jose Mourinho has overseen solid performances this season. But a top-four finish might be a tall order if the Giallorossi cannot consistently produce the goods on both ends of the pitch.

With both giants finding themselves where they do not intend to finish this season, Saturday’s match will have high stakes. Individual performances can tip the scales in their team’s favour on Saturday night. With that in mind, The Hard Tackle lists three “key players” for the upcoming Serie A fixture at Stadio Olimpico.

Khvicha Kvaratskhelia

The spotlight invariably falls on Victor Osimhen in a game involving Napoli. But his attacking partner often makes his mark whenever the Serie A champions end up on the right end of the result. We are talking about Khvicha Kvaratskhelia.

The Georgian international was slow off the blocks this season, going several weeks without contributing a goal at the onset of the 2023/24 campaign. But he has picked up pace in the last two months, raising his performance levels to the standards he holds for himself.

The 22-year-old still does not have an impressive tally, amassing five goals and five assists in 22 outings thus far. But Kvaratskhelia’s stock remains high, with well-known clubs like Barcelona, Real Madrid, and Liverpool among his suitors.

As for matters on the pitch, the youngster’s directness in the final third can trouble a vulnerable AS Roma defence. And Napoli will be in good stead at Stadio Olimpico if Kvaratskhelia rises to the occasion on Saturday night.

Romelu Lukaku

Barcelona considering Romelu Lukaku loan swoop.
Will Lukaku make his mark for AS Roma against Napoli? (Photo by Yorick Jansens/AFP/Getty Images)

Our list continues with an attacker who has been consistent this season. But unlike Khvicha Kvaratskhelia or Victor Osimhen, this player’s stock or reputation is not as high. We are talking about Romelu Lukaku, AS Roma’s star striker.

The 30-year-old was the subject of controversy this past summer after discussing a possible move to Juventus. That rubbed Inter Milan the wrong way, with the Nerazzurri deciding against securing his services on a permanent deal. As a third spell at San Siro eluded Lukaku, AS Roma came to his rescue towards the final days of the summer transfer window.

Lukaku has found his groove since reuniting with Jose Mourinho, who has brought the best out of the former Manchester United striker. The Belgian international has amassed 12 goals and two assists in 19 appearances and has been a bright spark for the inconsistent AS Roma this term.

For AS Roma to get anything out of Saturday night’s game, Lukaku has to step up and deliver the goods. Failure to do so will mean the hosts will struggle against Napoli, who should grab the three points if that happens.

Piotr Zielinski

Our list ends with a Napoli midfielder, even though we usually prioritise a second player from the team with lower odds to win the game. Nonetheless, we have picked Polish international Piotr Zielinski to round up the shortlist of “key players” for Saturday’s marquee Serie A fixture.

The 29-year-old makes Napoli tick, with his performance being critical in bringing the best out of Victor Osimhen and Khvicha Kvaratskhelia. So, Zielinski will provide the creative impetus from the middle of the park, setting up the chances for the Napoli attackers against AS Roma.

The Pole, whose uncertain future has alerted high-profile clubs like Barcelona, Inter Milan, and Liverpool. His set-piece prowess will also be crucial for Napoli against AS Roma this weekend. Meanwhile, the hosts can put him under pressure in close quarters and aerial situations. If that does not happen, Zielinski will be in his element this weekend.

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