An under-pressure Napoli desperate to climb up the table will take on Udinese, who are keen to arrest their slump and secure their first win.
All is not well under the roof of the Diego Armando Maradona Stadium after recent events. Napoli, who face Udinese this midweek, had a fast start to their campaign, winning their opening two games in style and showing how new manager Rudi Garcia has retained their core style.
After that, a defeat at home to Lazio and then consecutive draws have ensured Napoli are already trailing leaders Inter Milan by seven points after five games. With their other rivals also doing relatively well, the Partenopei are desperate for an urgent upturn in form.
🇳🇬 ❌ Victor Osimhen missed a penalty against Bologna as Napoli played a goalless draw
♻️ Reacted angrily towards his coach Rudi Garcia after the coach sub am off on the 86th minute.
Napoli for their league so far 👇
7️⃣ points behind first place & 7th place
👀 E no dey work pic.twitter.com/WNDvJrpXT2
— Football Fans Tribe 🇳🇬 ⚽ (@FansTribeHQ) September 25, 2023
Last weekend, during their goalless draw against Bologna, tensions were sparking between Garcia and star man Victor Osimhen, who taunted the manager after being substituted. The Nigerian had also missed a crucial penalty in the game that would have swung the result in Napoli’s favour.
Garcia fights to stay relevant, with talk of his status already a subject in the Italian media. The Frenchman has taken on big shoes to fill and must bring back the winning feeling again in this Napoli side or risk the rot to creep in much deeper. Their record against the next opponent, Udinese, is a stellar one, and the manager must keep up with that.
Udinese under Andrea Sottil have been abysmal this season and continued their struggles since the start of 2023. It has been a contrasting year for the club compared to this time last season. Around then, they were neck-in-neck, fighting to stay relevant among the top four of Serie A.
However, they have had a terrible start to the new calendar year, where no team has won fewer games than Udinese in 2023. The issue has crept into their latest campaign, as Sottil’s men are winless after five games and into the bottom three.
With only a Coppa Italia victory to show for their cause, Sottil will come under tremendous pressure to showcase the overall quality of this team. For starters, the manager has a huge task, as he takes his Udinese team to Napoli, where they have lost each of their last nine visits.
Team News & Tactics
Garcia will likely tweak his starting eleven after the disappointing draw against Bologna. He will be forced to retain central defensive duo Leo Ostigard and Natan following the injuries to Amir Rrahmani and Juan Jesus. Goalkeeper Pierluigi Gollini is also an absentee, but that will only bother the Napoli boss a little.
💬 @RudiGarcia “Dobbiamo valutare alcune cose per la partita di domani. Kvara deve essere spensierato, Osimhen è tra i migliori d’Europa, con lui sono tranquillo”#BolognaNapoli pic.twitter.com/WNvKEUnuCq
— Official SSC Napoli (@sscnapoli) September 23, 2023
In midfield, the manager could fit Eljif Elmas in a role and potentially replace the misfiring Piotr Zielinski on the left side of the midfield three. Stanislav Lobotka and Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa will retain their spots in the lineup for the time being.
Mario Rui and Giovanni Di Lorenzo will remain in those full-back berths, but Garcia could make a slight change to his front three. Despite doubts over Osimhen following his altercation with the manager, the Nigerian is too valuable to sit on the bench when fit.
Hence, Osimhen will continue to lead the line for Napoli and have the support of Khvicha Kvaratskhelia in the attack. The only change here is Matteo Politano, who is likely to replace Giacomo Raspadori on the right side of the attack.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Meret; Di Lorenzo, Ostigard, Natan, Rui; Anguissa, Lobotka, Elmas; Politano, Osimhen, Kvaratskhelia
Andrea Sottil’s injury list continued to grow, with at least eight first-team stars missing from action and out of the Napoli clash. Among those, Enzo Ebosse remains a long-term absentee with an ACL injury, while the manager will hope to have some of his absent stars in quickly in the coming period.
🎙#Perez: “We played so well yet we lost. However we believe that if we keep playing like this the victories will come"
— Udinese Calcio (@Udinese_1896) September 26, 2023
With Brazilian striker Brenner also absent from the clash, Sottil will rely on Frenchman Florian Thauvin and former Ajax man Lorenzo Lucca to lead the front line. The manager will also hope for Lazar Samardzic to pick up form and provide an attacking threat from his midfield position.
In terms of shape, Udinese will go along with their 3-5-2 formation with Nehuen Perez, Jaka Bijol and Thomas Thiesson Kristensen sitting in that back three. Walace will occupy the anchor midfield role alongside Samardzic and Sandi Lovric.
On the wings, Sottil will prefer Festy Ebosele on the right side, while Hassane Kamara will take up the left-hand slot. Up front, the two-prone attacking setup of Thauvin and Lucca should do the trick, although they could find it difficult to penetrate this Napoli defence.
Probable Lineup (3-5-2): Silvestri; Perez, Bijol, Kristensen; Ebosele, Samardzic, Walace, Lovric, Kamara; Thauvin, Lucca
- Napoli have won their last ten home matches against Udinese in all competitions.
- Napoli have scored at least two goals in their last six home matches against Udinese in all competitions.
- Napoli have seen over 2.5 goals in their last six home matches against Udinese in all competitions.
- Udinese are winless after five games in this Serie A season.
- No other Serie A side have fewer wins in 2023 than Udinese.
Player to Watch
More on Victor Osimhen. His message to the Napoli squad today was positive — and it was to react after the draw 🔵🇳🇬
Osimhen always wants to win games — that’s why he spoke to Garcia after being subbed off vs Bologna.
Positive, strong message to the team as leader once again. pic.twitter.com/YdbaAwlCTk
— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) September 25, 2023
After a stellar season where he was Napoli’s star man in the attack and a worthy winner of the Capocannoniere, things are a bit tense for him on the field. After going four games without a goal, the pressure is truly on the Nigerian to deliver, especially after the minor argument with his manager after he got substituted.
The major talking point from the previous game was his crucial penalty miss against Bologna, which may have cost Napoli two points. However, Osimhen comes into this clash with a supreme scoring record against Udinese, his second favourite side to score against, with five strikes to his name. Hence, fans will put all their money on the Nigerian to put on a big performance and get his season back on track.
Napoli 2-1 Udinese
Napoli are hungry to bring positive results back, and Udinese may have come here at the wrong possible time. Andrea Sottil’s men also remain desperate for a victory to get their season up and running but may have to wait a bit longer to achieve that.
Napoli are desperate to stay relevant in among the top sides, who are already opening up sizeable gaps over the champions. With this game, all eyes will remain focused on Rudi Garcia and Victor Osimhen, and the pair have to deliver on their jobs straight away. Napoli are current favourites to snatch three points here. But time will tell if Udinese can further exploit the Scudetto holders and increase their problems while solving their own.