AS Roma host table toppers Napoli on Sunday in the Serie A after a disappointing week for Jose Mourinho’s men. Roma were humiliated 6-1 by Bodo/Glimt in the Europe Conference League on Thursday night after a difficult 1-0 loss to Juventus last weekend.
The team from the capital had made a good start to life under Mourinho, winning their first three league games but the high was short-lived. Roma have failed to win back-to-back matches since and have recorded recent defeats to fierce rivals Lazio and European competitors Juve. A good result against Napoli is needed to restore some of that early September positivity around the club.
That however will not be an easy task. Napoli have a 100% record in Serie A after eight matches, the only team to do so in Europe’s top five leagues this season. Luciano Spalletti’s side recorded their first win in the Europa League as well in midweek, defeating Legia Warsaw 3-0 at home. The Neapolitans however have only played Juventus amongst direct rivals and a win against Roma is needed to lay down a marker.
⏱ 90+5 | GAME OVER 💪#NapoliLegia 3-0#UEL
💙 #ForzaNapoliSempre pic.twitter.com/dIRWFF91Lj
— Official SSC Napoli (@en_sscnapoli) October 21, 2021
The two sides come into the match with polar opposite forms but it is still anyone’s game.
Jose Mourinho will be without winger Nicolo Zaniolo, who hobbled off with an injury in last Sunday’s encounter with Juve. Although tests showed no serious problems, he is still expected to miss a couple of weeks of action. The game will also come too soon for Chris Smalling who picked up an injury in training and should return next week.
Zaniolo 2 ACLs since 2020. He’s being played way too much
Should’ve been eased back 1st half this season. Instead he’s playing every game, even Mancini called him & played him for Italy
It’s reckless. You’re at much more risk of further injuries straight after an ACL #JUVROM
— Carlo Garganese (@carlogarganese) October 17, 2021
Leonardo Spinazzola remains ruled out due to the Achilles rupture he suffered at the Euros.
Roma Predicted Lineup: Patricio; Karsdorp, Mancini, Ibanez, Vina; Veretout, Cristante; El Shaarawy, Pellegrini, Mkhitaryan; Abraham
Napoli have things going for them at the moment and have no major injury concerns. Kevin Malcuit and Adam Ounas are the only doubts for Spalletti, who has a fit and firing squad at his disposal.
Napoli Predicted Lineup: Ospina; Di Lorenzo, Koulibaly, Rrahmani, Rui; Anguissa, Ruiz; Lozano, Politano, Insigne; Osimhen
AS Roma’s play this season has been built around summer signing Tammy Abraham, who has not disappointed. The striker has two goals and two assists in the league this season but to view his contribution only in goal output would be to only see one side of the coin.
The Englishman, frequently criticised during his time at Chelsea for not being involved in the buildup, has showcased all aspects of his game. His holdup play has been excellent and he has combined well with his fellow attackers in Henrikh Mkhitaryan and co. His form earned him a return to the England fold and he will have to be at his best if Roma are to upset Napoli.
Napoli have an in-form young striker of their own in Victor Osimhen who has turned it around after a disappointing first season in Italy. The Nigerian forward has nine goals in all competitions already and has scored in seven of the last eight games for his club.
Insigne and Osimhen 😎
Napoli = 🔝 of Serie A#UEL pic.twitter.com/huZdYxwzuF
— UEFA Europa League (@EuropaLeague) September 27, 2021
Osimhen has a lethal combination of physicality and technicality which is impossible to defend against when he is on song. He has worked well with Lorenzo Insigne and the duo will be key to breaking down a decent Roma defence.
Given the form and quality shown so far, Napoli are the outright favourites to get the three points on Sunday. However, Mourinho and his sides flourish when their backs are against the wall and it would be a classic Mourinho moment if he can pull off an upset and throw Roma back in the title picture. However, the difference between the two sides is too wide at this point and FootTheBall predicts Napoli 2-0 Roma.