Napoli will aim to make up lost ground in their title defence when they face Lecce on Saturday
SSC Napoli have been embroiled in off-the-field controversies of late and will be keen to shift their focus to on-the-field matters when they travel to Lecce on Saturday.
Both teams are level on points with the home side slightly behind on goal difference. Inter Milan’s loss to US Sassuolo Calcio gives Napoli a chance to claw back their four-point deficit to the top.
Rudi Garcia’s men have lacked conviction this season but were excellent in their 4-1 thrashing of Udinese Calcio. Adversity at times can bring teams together and Osimhen was central in the club’s statement on the field last time around.
Napoli took four points off Lecce last season and will hope to secure the same if not more this time around. All teams in the top flight have shown deficiencies this season and Napoli should be hopeful of putting together another Scudetto push.
With matches against Real Madrid and Fiorentina to come, Napoli will be keen to build up a winning momentum. Away form remains a concern as Garcia’s men have won just one of their three matches away from Naples this season.
Napoli hold the edge in the game between both sides in recent times and go into the match as favourites. The onus will be on the club to ensure any conversation regarding the club will be limited to on-the-field performances.
The Hard Tackle looks at how both sides could line up on Sunday and what tactics they might employ.
Team News & Tactics
— U.S. Lecce (@OfficialUSLecce) September 29, 2023
Ten men Lecce fell to their first defeat of the Serie A season against Juventus last time around. They now return to home comforts and will be keen to reignite that winning touch against the reigning Scudetto holders.
Napoli remain formidable but are far from the juggernaut that we saw run away with the title last season. Given their abysmal away record this season, Lecce have reasons to be optimistic. Lecce have picked up two red cards in their last three games and will hope to keep their tempers in control on the night.
Roberto D’Aversa could make a few changes from the side that struggled to break Juventus down midweek. Lameck Banda is out injured while Mohamed Kaba is suspended for the game. It is not all bad news as Kastriot Dermaku is back available for selection.
A 4-3-3 appears to be the formation for the night with Wladimiro Falcone in goal. Valentin Gendrey should come into the playing XI alongside the trio of Marin Pongracic, Federico Baschirotto and Patrick Dorgu.
Ylber Ramadani should hold the fort in the middle of the park with Hamza Rafia and Alexis Blin in support. Nikola Krstovic should lead the line with Pontus Almqvist and Nicola Sansone providing the width.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Falcone; Gendrey, Pongracic, Baschirotto, Dorgu; Rafia, Ramadani, Blin; Almqvist, Krstovic, Sansone
Napoli have a defensive crisis of sorts after Juan Jesus injured his hamstring. He is now unavailable;e until the next international break, giving Garcia a new headache to ponder.
With Amir Rrahmani also unavailable, Bernardo Natan could be given the nod on the night. Garcia is expected to shuffle his side given the upcoming clash against Real Madrid in the UEFA Champions League.
Garcia is unlikely to deviate from the 4-3-3 formation and his playing XI should retain his most potent players. Alex Meret is a shoo-in in goal and should be protected by the backline of Giovanni Di Lorenzo, Leo Ostigard, Natn and Mathías Olivera in the backline.
📄 I convocati di #LecceNapoli
— Official SSC Napoli (@sscnapoli) September 29, 2023
Stanislav Lobotka should hold the central midfield with Elif Elmas and Jens Cajuste responsible for progressing the ball further up the field.
Matteo Politano should hold the right flank while Victor Osimhen and Khvicha Kvaratskhelia retain their spots up front. Osimhen ended his mini drought against Udinese while Kvaratskhelia also got the monkey off his back. Napoli will hope that the duo rediscover their mojo from last season ahead of a key run of games.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Meret; Di Lorenzo, Ostigard, Natan, Olivera; Cajuste, Lobotka, Elmas; Politano, Osimhen, Kvaratskhelia
- Lecce have lost four of their last six Serie A games against SSC Napoli.
- Napoli have found the back of the net in their last 13 clashes against Lecce in Serie A. In fact, we will have to go back all the way to 1997 to see the last time they failed to score.
- A win on the night will see Napoli secure their fourth straight win away to Lecce.
- Lecce and Napoli both have the same number of points after six games played.
- A win on the night will see Lecce win their first four home games in a Serie A campaign for the first time since 1989/90.
Player to Watch
The Nigerian is currently under fire given the controversy regarding Napoli’s social media posts on him. He returned to action midweek, scoring in a 4-1 win over Udinese.
The club also came out with an apology of sorts but rumours continue to circle about Osimhen’s future at the club. Either way, one cannot deny that the Nigerian is the club’s most potent attacker and can make a telling difference when in the mood. Should the visitors score on the night, it will have to be with the 24-year-old playing a key role in the play.
Lecce 1-2 SSC Napoli
Lecce have been impressive this season and the loss to Juventus does not hide the fact that they will be formidable opponents. Napoli have the better players on paper and will benefit from a fired up Osimhen keen to make a point. Should the Nigerian turn up, the visitors could come away with a narrow win in what should be a tight game.