Mid-table Monza will welcome new Italian champions Napoli to the U-Power Stadium on Sunday, hoping to gatecrash the Partenopei’s victory tour.
Monza will look to spoil the celebrations of champions Napoli when the sides lock horns at the U-Power Stadium on Sunday in Serie A. The hosts are 12th in the table but have the same number of points as eighth-placed Fiorentina. Meanwhile, Napoli are celebrating their title win and are 17 points above second-placed Juventus.
Napoli made a blistering start in Serie A. But things have been closely contested in the last few weeks, with each of their last three league wins coming by a one-goal margin. After securing a historic title triumph earlier this month, Napoli’s season is winding down as the players and fans celebrate their historic success.
However, with the Partenopei knocked out of the Champions League and the cup competitions, there is not much to worry about between now and the end of the campaign. And it is easy to see them fading in this final stretch of the season unless they have the motivation to breach the 90-point mark and go up as high as 95.
The party is not over yet. Find the right way to celebrate it by spending a weekend with Coca-Cola and Pizza 🥤🍕#fridayfeeling #cocacola #realmagic @CocaColaIT pic.twitter.com/rtGSXibJIH
— Official SSC Napoli (@en_sscnapoli) May 12, 2023
Monza, meanwhile, are the surprise package of the season and have been punching above their weight. As we move towards the business end of the season, they are pushing for a top-half finish, having put together a six-game unbeaten run.
They have beaten Inter Milan and held AS Roma to a draw, only losing to Lazio during that run of games (W4 D5). So the hosts are likely to make things difficult for the visitors, who are still on a high following their title triumph.
Napoli cruised to victory over Monza in the reverse fixture played in August last year at Stadio Diego Armando Maradona, beating them 4-0 on the occasion. The Hard Tackle looks at how both sides could line up on the night and what tactics they might employ.
Team News & Tactics
🇧🇷 𝐈𝐑𝐌𝐀𝐎𝐒 🇵🇹 ⚪️🔴#ACMonza #Monza #Training pic.twitter.com/2B6ZQ3D9jW
— AC Monza (@ACMonza) May 12, 2023
Andrea Colpani is sidelined by injury, while Pablo Mari is a minor doubt due to a hip issue. Raffaele Palladino, who will be back on the touchline himself following suspension, has no fresh injury concerns to cope with. But he may change things up to take advantage of the leggy opponent.
Given that Napoli have already wrapped up the long-awaited title and complacency is likely to set in, Palladino should sense blood and adopt a brave approach that will take the game to the visitors.
A 3-4-2-1 formation should be the order of the day for the hosts, with Michele Di Gregorio starting in goal. He should be protected by the backline of Luca Caldirola, Armando Izzo, and Marlon Santos.
Patrick Ciurria and Carlos Augusto should function as the flying wing-backs. Augusto, for one, is not just a reliable defender but also adds plenty of width to their attack going forward. He has six goals and five assists to his name across all competitions.
Stefano Sensi could play from the start in this game and should hold the fort in midfield alongside Nicolo Rovella, going up against the trio of Napoli stars. This could push Matteo Pessina further up the field to support Gianluca Caprari in fashioning chances in the final third. Frontman Andrea Petagna may also make the starting XI.
Probable Lineup (3-4-2-1): Di Gregorio; Marlon, Caldirola, Izzo; Ciurria, Rovella, Sensi, Augusto; Pessina, Caprari; Petagna
Hirving Lozano and Mario Rui are injured and will not make the trip to Monza. While Luciano Spalletti has no reason to really rotate his Napoli squad as they have no other commitments to fulfill other than enjoying taking the field as champions, he may try to experiment a bit and use fringe players to maybe discover in-house replacements for potential outgoings this summer.
The team will still be well balanced, with some big guns likely to start, although expect there to be a raft of changes early in the second half or so. Spalletti is expected to field a 4-3-3 formation, with backup goalkeeper Pierluigi Gollini starting in goal ahead of first-choice Alex Meret.
💬 Spalletti: "The club has done a tremendous job. They've got a couple of things right – winning and valuing the squad. The future looks bright and we have the chance to build lasting success." pic.twitter.com/ehmed5pEk1
— Official SSC Napoli (@en_sscnapoli) May 13, 2023
He will be protected by the back four of Giovanni Di Lorenzo, Leo Ostigaard, the in-demand Kim Min-jae, and Matheus Olivera, with the likes of central defender Amir Rrahmani rested for this one.
As ever, the midfield will be anchored by Stanislav Lobotka, with support from Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa and Elif Elmas, who will be handed a chance to impress as a left-sided player in the middle of the park. Matteo Politano and Giacomo Raspadori will look to wreak havoc from out wide, with Serie A top-scorer Victor Osimhen leading the line for the visitors.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Gollini; Di Lorenzo, Ostigard, Kim, Olivera; Elmas, Lobotka, Anguissa; Politano, Osimhen, Raspadori
- Monza have lost only one of their last ten league games.
- The hosts have seen fewer than three goals in four of their last five games.
- Napoli have failed to win five of their last seven matches in all competitions.
- Monza are unbeaten in nine of their last 11 Serie A home matches.
- Napoli were free-scoring at the start of the season, but goals have been hard to come by lately, having scored only five goals in the last seven games.
Player to Watch
Let’s admit it: This is Victor Osimhen’s world, and we’re just living in it!
The Nigerian hotshot has mesmerised Napoli fans this season. And his goals have been instrumental in the club claiming their first Scudetto in 33 years.
The 24-year-old offensive powerhouse is closing in on Serie A’s Golden Boot award. And in a season of landmarks, his latest goal in Serie A brought him another record as he found the net against Fiorentina last weekend, making him the top African scorer in Serie A’s history, which is some feat given that former AC Milan star Weah is the only African ever to win the Ballon d’Or prize given to the world’s best footballer.
He also etched his name onto the scoresheet when Napoli beat Monza earlier in the season. And his sharp-shooting skills should make him the favourite to score again in Sunday’s encounter.
Monza 1-1 Napoli
Luciano Spalletti will need to convince his players to not put their foot off the gas and try their utmost to win their remaining dead rubber fixtures, especially the away ones. However, after ending a 33-year wait for a Scudetto and a long, hard season of exhilarating football, it would be understandable if Napoli did not push themselves to extremes at the Stadio Brianteo this weekend.
Raffaele Palladino will know that if he can motivate his team to get in the faces of the visitors from the start, Monza could meet with little opposition from a team already on the beach.
It is not as though Monza have not already seen some noteworthy outcomes this season. Much will depend on what version of Napoli shows up this weekend, although we back the home side to earn a point in a relatively uneventful 1-1 draw, with the visitors set to display an inconsistent and knackered version of themselves in this game.
Leave a Reply