Napoli vs Bologna: Preview and Prediction

Napoli are in danger of missing out on European football as they prepare to host Champions League-chasing Bologna on Saturday.

One win in their last eight games does not paint a resounding picture for Europe-chasing Napoli, as the hosts and dethroned Serie A champions could miss out on continental football altogether, while their visitors, Bologna, are chasing UEFA Champions League qualification. Considering most of the group have been kept together, it has been a dismal season for the Partenopei while defending their crown.

Last weekend, a late Udinese leveller denied Napoli a long-overdue victory, with Francesco Calzona’s side last tasting a win at the beginning of March. They have fallen off massively and are now in danger of missing out on European football altogether for next season.

Napoli are five points off seventh-placed Lazio, who are in the final European spot. A defeat or another set of dropped points against UEFA Champions League-chasing Bologna could seal their fate in the standings, which will be catastrophic for their finances as well as reputation considering how they went about winning the Serie A title last season.

Thiago Motta remains linked with the Juventus job to replace Massimiliano Allegri in Turin. Irrespective of what happens in the summer, he still has unfinished business with Bologna and their quest for Champions League football for next season as they get set to take on Napoli this weekend.

Since their win over Salernitana, Bologna have managed just one more victory in their five league games, which came against top-four rivals AS Roma, while drawing the others. Last weekend, they managed a stalemate against Torino, which has put them in a very close race for a Champions League spot than Motta would have ideally wanted, with sixth-placed AS Roma only four points behind.

A win would put Bologna in a terrific spot to qualify for the UEFA Champions League, especially if AS Roma fail to take anything out of their clash with Atalanta. Hence, Motta & Co need to capitalise on their hosts’ terrible form and get a resounding win to cement their success story this season.

Team News & Tactics


Francesco Calzona still has a few injury issues to deal with. But he more or less has a strong enough squad available ahead of the game against Bologna. Napoli could be without Giacomo Raspadori and Piotr Zielinski, who are dealing with ankle and calf issues, respectively, as they also missed the most recent trip to Udinese.

Napoli are, however, boosted by the potential return of Khvicha Kvaratskhelia who was dealing with a thigh problem and also missed the trip to Udinese. The Georgian international should come into the starting eleven and replace Jesper Lindstrom, while Matteo Politano will retain his place in the front three for Calzona’s side.

Stanislav Lobotka remains the firm choice to sit at the base of Napoli’s midfield alongside Jens Cajuste and Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa. At the back, Juan Jesus and Amir Rrahamani are pencilled in to start at the heart of the defence, with Giovanni Di Lorenzo set to lead the side from his right-back position. At the same time, Mathias Olivera will play in the left-back slot.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Meret; Di Lorenzo, Jesus, Rrahmani, Olivera; Anguissa, Lobotka, Cajuste; Politano, Osimhen, Kvaratskhelia


The only two absentees for Thiago Motta’s side are Adama Soumaoro and Lewis Ferguson. The Bologna boss will likely make some tweaks to his lineup but keep his shape intact, with Remo Freuler sitting as the lone man at the base of midfield.

Bologna have a few of their stars in danger of a ban should they get a yellow card against Napoli, meaning Motta might resort to caution ahead of this visit to Naples. The manager might make one change to the backline, with Sam Beukema likely to replace Riccardo Calafiori at the heart of the defence, which could see Jhon Lucumi moved to the left side. Victor Kristiansen and Stefan Posch will keep their places in the full-back roles.

Riccardo Orsolini will likely come on the right wing and replace Dan Ndoye. Similarly, Oussama El Azzouzi will come in for Giovanni Fabbian in the attacking midfield role and play alongside Michel Aebischer in those two positions. AC Milan loanee Alexis Saaelemarkers will feature on the left wing, with Joshua Zirkzee set to lead the line for Bologna against Napoli.

Probable Lineup (4-1-4-1): Skorupski; Posch, Buekema, Lucumi, Kristansen; Freuler, Orsolini, Aebischer, Azzouzi, Saelemarkers; Zirkzee

Key Stats

  • Napoli have scored at least three goals in eight of their last nine home matches against Bologna in all competitions.
  • Napoli have won eight of their last nine home matches against Bologna in all competitions.
  • Napoli have only one victory in their last eight league games and are on a 4-game winless run.
  • Bologna are unbeaten in their last seven away games in Serie A.
  • Bologna have suffered a defeat only once in their last 15 Serie A games.

Player to Watch

Joshua Zirkzee

Embed from Getty Images

Zirkzee is not the type of striker who would give a goal every other game, as his numbers this season show a fair gap between games where he has scored. For instance, he went four games without a goal or assist and then got both in the win over Roma, although he has again gone on a mini drought in the last two league clashes.

Despite the inconsistencies in posting good numbers, Zirkzee still works hard for the team and brings everyone else in the attacking third. He remains Thiago Motta’s crucial cog in the attacking setup, although the manager will hope the Dutchman is the man to get the goals and seal their Champions League place for next season.


Napoli 0-2 Bologna

The visitors are in a supreme vein of form in terms of momentum despite managing draws in their last two games. Bologna have performed well against their direct rivals, especially in away games, as seen against AC Milan, Atalanta and AS Roma, winning against the latter pair in recent weeks.

Hence, there is optimism heading into this contest, as Thiago Motta’s side are also defensively sound to keep players like Victor Osimhen at bay for large parts of the game. Napoli are not in the best run and are under real pressure about losing out on European football altogether next season. Hence, they are likely to lose this home clash with Bologna, which will let the visitors take a massive step towards Champions League football.

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