After running riot in Serie A on Friday night, Napoli will look to keep their winning juggernaut rolling when they host relegation-threatened Cremonese in the Coppa Italia Round of 16 on Tuesday night.

The Stadio Diego Armando Maradona will host the Round of 16 Coppa Italia clash between Serie A leaders Napoli and bottom club Cremonese on Tuesday night in what is likely to be a pretty high-scoring and one-sided affair.

Napoli took their dream start to the 2022/23 campaign to new heights on Friday night, as the Serie A leaders — who have lost only one league game so far this season — crushed second-placed Juventus 5-1 at home to make a serious statement of intent in the title race. Following their relentless and lethal attacking onslaught, Luciano Spalletti’s men are nine points clear at the top of the Serie A standings.

With 44 league goals this season, they have the best-attacking record in the division. And they will be supremely confident of maintaining their form when they turn their attention to the Coppa Italia on Tuesday, welcoming Serie A’s only winless team in the form of beleaguered Cremonese to their impregnable fortress.

The Partenepoi have won the Coppa Italia six times in their history, last lifting the trophy two years ago. And they will certainly have their eyes set on a domestic double at least this season.

On the other hand, Cremonese, unsurprisingly, have found things a little tougher this season after finishing second in Serie B and securing automatic promotion last season. It has been 26 years since the famed grey and red shirts graced the Italian top flight, and this campaign was always going to be a struggle.

The minnows have not been able to compete on a level playing field and will know that there will not be much change for the remainder of the campaign. They are currently languishing at the foot of the league table and have not tasted a single league win this term, managing a depressing tally of just seven points after 18 matches.

Up against a rampant Naples side in an outstanding run of form and with a near-perfect record on home turf this season, they will face an uphill battle to lay a glove here.

This is the second meeting between these two sides; the last encounter ended with Napoli pummeling the Cremonese 4-1 in the league. The same could well turn out to be the case on Tuesday night at the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona.

Team News & Tactics


Napoli boss Luciano Spalletti has no fresh injury concerns ahead of hosting Cremonese and will have a full-strength squad at his disposal to pick his starting XI from. While they have the ambition to triumph in every competition they participate in, Spalletti may look to rest some of his star attackers following a busy period since the World Cup.

Spalletti’s 4-2-3-1 system will field a press-resistant and dribble-heavy midfield double pivot in Stanislav Lobotka and on-loan Tanguy Ndombele. Backup veteran goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu will function in between the sticks for Napoli. Juan Jesus could get a chance to impress alongside Amir Rrahmani at the centre of Spalletti’s defence.

New winter recruit and Poland international Bartosz Bereszynski will operate as the right-back, while Mathias Olivera will slot in as the left-back. Both of them will get the licence to get forward and create overloads on the attacking end of the field at every chance they get.

While Khvicha Kvaratskhelia and Victor Osimhen will not be in the starting XI, the Partenopei attack will not be lightweight by any means. Giacomo Raspadori, for one, has made a promising start to his Napoli career by scoring a lot of goals in limited minutes, especially in the Champions League.

Giovanni Simeone, when called into action, has also responded with goals. Hirving Lozano is also back to his electric best, while Elif Elmas remains a consistent performer for them. So, there will be no shortage of flair, dynamism, and potency up top.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Sirigu; Bereszynski, Jesus, Rrahmani, Olivera; Lobotka, Ndombele; Lozano, Raspadori, Elmas; Simeone


Cremonese were without a first-team manager as recently as yesterday, but have appointed Davide Ballardini as their new head coach. The former Bologna and Genoa boss will take charge of the squad for the trip to Naples.

He will have to make do without the services of goalkeeper Ionut Radu, influential centre-back Vlad Chiriches (muscle), and midfielder Christian Acella (elbow), and will hope that his defence can stand firm against an expected Napoli onslaught.

La Cremo have serious problems at both ends of the pitch. Their attack is extremely wasteful, scoring only 13 goals, and only Sampdoria nestled the net fewer times in Serie A (8). Their defence is likewise vulnerable, and with 32 goals allowed, they are by far the poorest in that area.

 So, Ballardini has an incredibly difficult job on his hands, and keeping this side afloat in the top division would be nothing short of a miracle. Ballardini always prefers to play with three defenders in almost all of the teams he has managed during his career and as such, his favourite playing system is 3-5-2 flat.

During his most recent job at Genoa, he also deployed a 3-4-1-2 at times, which he may utilise here. Atalanta loanee, Marco Carnesecchi will start in between the sticks behind a back three of Jack Hendry, Matteo Bianchetti, and Giacomo Quagliata.

Leonardo Sernicola, who comes straight back into the starting XI after missing the last game due to suspension, and Emanuele Valeri will act as the full-backs and will be tasked with stopping their Napoli counterparts from bombing forward.

Charles Pickel and Soualiho Meite are likely to form the central midfield double-pivot, giving the Cremonese full-backs a solid base to build upon. Cristian Buonaiuto will fill in as the creative attacking midfielder as he looks to progress the ball into advance areas, and create some meaningful opportunities.

Ex-Roma forward Felix Afena-Gyan poses a real threat with his pace and power, but he has failed to show the end product. He might get another chance to impress under the new boss as he forms a strike-duo alongside the club’s top scorer, David Okereke, who has five goals to his name across all competitions this season.

Probable Lineup (3-4-1-2): Carnesecchi; Hendry, Bianchetti, Quagliata; Sernicola, Pickel, Meite, Valeri; Buonaiuto; Afena-Gyan, Ciofani

Key Stats

  • Napoli have won nine of their last ten home matches and have scored two or more goals in eight of those games.
  • Cremonese have not won a single league fixture yet this season in 18 matches and have not scored in six of their last ten matches on the road.
  • The visitors have lost four consecutive games, conceding at least two goals in three of those.
  • Only Juventus (12) have conceded fewer league goals than Napoli’s 14 this campaign.
  • During the last 10 meetings between these two, Napoli holds the upper hand with four wins to their name (D4 L2).

Player to Watch

Elif Elmas

The 23-year-old is a real talent and has been an important player for Napoli over the past few seasons. He bagged seven goals and six assists in 46 games for Napoli last season.

He has quietly gone about his business to put up stellar performances for the Naples outfit without ever capturing the attention of the media, having chipped in with 5 league goals so far this term. The 39-cap North Macedonia midfielder is an attacking midfielder by trade, but he can also operate in a more orthodox central midfield role and even on the left wing.

This kind of versatility has benefited Spalletti greatly in his squad rotation. The Napoli star combines outstanding game intelligence as well as fantastic vision, which, when paired with his technique, makes him one of the best young footballers in Italian football.


Napoli 3-1 Cremonese

Napoli head into Tuesday’s match as firm favourites to walk away with progression into the next round as they take on a floundering Cremonese side that are without a league victory this season.

While we expect the visitors to put up a good fight against a heavily rotated Napoli side, Spalletti’s side boasts enough firepower in the backup artillery needed to get the job done, and the Hard Tackle are tipping them to come out victorious with a comfortable scoreline.

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