High-flying Napoli will be keen to strengthen their hold at the Serie A summit when they travel to Salernitana on Saturday.
Serie A leaders Napoli will travel to a struggling Salernitana as they aim to retain the iron grip at the top of the Scudetto rankings this season.
Luciano Spalletti’s side have been one of the most formidable teams in the Italian top flight, let alone Europe. The same cannot be said of Salernitana, who have struggled to impress since November. In fact, they have picked up more points than just Sassuolo in that time.
While derbies are usually hard-fought affairs, there is a sense of inequality between both teams on this occasion. Anything less than a convincing win for the visitors can be considered a surprise on the night.
Salernitana are smarting from the 8-2 hammering by Atalanta last week, a result that saw them sack Davide Nicola. Curiously, however, they chose to re-hire the 49-year-old, who will now take charge of the side for the weekend.
Napoli, meanwhile, made a statement with their convincing 5-1 win over Juventus. Should both sides put up the same performance levels, we could be in for a scoreline that would look at home at the Australian Open.
The result could have repercussions at both ends of the table and could prove to be an interesting one should Salernitana turn up. For now, Napoli are overwhelming favourites and look likely to come away with all three points with minimal fuss. The Hard Tackle looks at how both sides could line up on the night and what tactics they might deploy.
Team News & Tactics
— US Salernitana 1919 (@OfficialUSS1919) January 20, 2023
Not only are the Granata in a poor run of form but also have a heavy injury list to contend with. Pasquale Mazzocchi and Federico Fazio continue to struggle with injuries, while Giulio Maggiore and Luigi Sepe are struggling with thigh and calf issues.
Dylan Bronn is also recovering from a knock to his thigh and appears to have fallen short of being named in the matchday squad. Austrian defender Flavius Daniliuc is also back from suspension and should feature on the night.
Davide Nicola has an otherwise fully fit squad to choose from and has a real job on his hands to build up morale. Salernitana are likely to deploy in a 3-5-2 formation that could dovetail to 5-3-2 or 5-4-1 if needed.
Guillermo Ochoa should start in goal behind the trio of Norbert Gyomber, Daniliuc and Lorenzo Pirola. Antonio Candreva is likely to be played out on the right, with Domagoj Bradaric occupying the other flank. The duo will likely have their hands full on the night against Napoli’s marauding attack.
The trio of Emil Bohinen, Lassana Coulibaly and Hans Nicolussi Caviglia will be tasked with holding the fort in central midfield. How the trio performs could dictate the intensity of the game.
Federico Bonazzoli should start upfront alongside the club’s top scorer Boulaye Dia. How well the duo can make the most of their limited chances could highlight the club’s chances of securing a point or more.
Probable Lineup (3-5-2): Ochoa; Gyomber, Daniliuc, Pirola; Candreva, Nicolussi, Coulibaly, Bohinen, Bradaric; Bonazzoli, Dia
The Partenopei appear to be showing no signs of slowing down as they pursue their first Scudetto since 1990. Luciano Spalletti has not just built a formidable side but also one that is aesthetically pleasing to the eye.
The 63-year-old has often fallen short of expectations but is now looking to redeem himself by leading Napoli to the holy grail. Matteo Politano is a minor doubt for the game, while Khvicha Kvaratskhelia is back from the flu and should start.
⚡️ Fully focused
— Official SSC Napoli (@en_sscnapoli) January 19, 2023
Napoli are likely to retain their 4-3-3 formation, with Alex Meret in goal. He will be the last line of defence behind Giovanni Di Lorenzo, Kim Min-jae, Amir Rrahmani and Mario Rui.
The trio of Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa, Stanislav Lobotka and Piotr Zielinski will form the midfield, with Hirving Lozano and Khvicha Kvaratskhelia providing the width. Finally, the prolific Victor Osimhen will lead the line and will hope to maintain his healthy lead at the top of the Serie A top-scorers table.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Meret; Di Lorenzo, Kim, Rrahmani, Rui; Anguissa, Lobotka, Zielinski; Lozano, Osimhen, Kvaratskhelia
- Napoli have faced Salernitana four times in Serie A so far and are yet to taste defeat. The Partenopei have won six of their last seven away games in the Campania Derbies. They have also maintained six clean sheets in the run.
- Salernitana have conceded 18 goals in Serie A since November, more than any other side in the league during this timeframe.
- Salernitana have picked up just six points in the league since November. Only Sassuolo have a poorer return in the same time period.
- A win on the night will see Napoli become just the third team to achieve 50 or more points from the first 19 Serie A games in the three-points-for-a-win era.
- Napoli have scored four or more goals five times in Serie A this season. Only Bayern have managed to do so on more occasions across Europe’s top five leagues this season. Napoli have scored 21 goals in the first half this season, the most of any side in Serie A this season. Salernitana, meanwhile, have conceded 19 times in the first half, more than any other side in the Italian top flight.
Player to Watch
The Nigerian sensation continues to attract interest from top clubs thanks to his prolific form in front of the goal. Osimhen has been the focal point of the Napoli attack and is leading the race for this season’s Serie A golden boot.
Quick on his feet and clinical in the box, Osimhen is a difficult player to keep quiet. Given Salernitana’s poor morale and organisation, there is every reason to believe that the 24-year-old will find himself on the scoresheet.
Manchester United and Arsenal have been heavily linked with a summer move for Osimhen. The 24-year-old can certainly make his case should he continue to score for fun in the coming weeks.
Salernitana 0- 4 Napoli
To call the match-up a mismatch both on and off the paper would be an understatement. Napoli have both the momentum and ability to take the game by storm. The visitors could run crazy if Salernitana fail to turn up and extend their advantage at the top of the Serie A table. Napoli should win the game comfortably at least by four goals to the good.