After bouncing back in style from a 3-2 loss at the San Siro against Inter Milan with a 4-0 win over Lazio, Napoli host in-form Atalanta at the Diego Armando Maradona Stadium on Saturday at 20:45 GMT.
This match will present a tough examination of Napoli’s title credentials with fourth-placed Atalanta flying in Serie A at the moment.
Can Napoli Hold Their Nerve Against a Good Atalanta Side?
Luciano Spalletti’s side bounced back to winning ways in style with a rampant performance to demolish Lazio 4-0.
But the test that will be posed by Atalanta will be significantly different from the Lazio side they steamrolled. It is important for Napoli to hold their nerve against the better sides in Serie A to continue their impressive start to the season, and retain their position at the top of the table.
Luciano Spalletti needs to recuperate his charges and get them primed for another elite performance on Saturday.
Can Atalanta Push the Sides at the Top of the Table with Consistency?
Atalanta, under Gian Piero Gasperini, are fourth on the table seven points behind Napoli at the top of Serie A.
They travel to Napoli to face the table-topping Napoli on the back of fine form, especially in the wake of beating Juventus 1-0 in Turin.
A win will cut their gap to the top to four points and cement their position in the top four; it will also blow open the race for the Scudetto, especially after AC Milan lost their second consecutive match in Serie A.
Spalletti’s men have won three, drawn two, and lost one in their last six rounds of fixtures in Serie A. In the process, Napoli have collected 11 points out of the available 18.
Napoli’s home form has been stellar with the only dropped points in their last matches being in a surprising 1-1 draw with Hellas Verona. Otherwise, the league leaders have won the other five fixtures.
In the seven matches they have played this season, they have won six, and collected 19 out of the available 21 points.
Atalanta hold the best form in Serie A with 14 points out of the last six rounds of fixtures. Gasperini’s men have won four and drawn two in this run.
Away from home, Atalanta also holds the best form in Serie A over the last six rounds of fixtures with a return of 16 points out of the available 18. In this run, the only dropped points on the road have been in a 2-2 draw at Inter Milan.
With the best away record this season, Atalanta will face the side with the best home record on Saturday, setting up an exciting match.
Spalletti will be without star striker Victor Osimhen who is out with a cheekbone fracture. Right-winger Matteo Politano is ruled out of the fixture after testing positive for coronavirus.
Napoli are also without Adam Ounas (muscle injury), Alessandro Zanoli (coronavirus) and Andre Zambo Anguissa (torn abductor muscle).
Faouzi Ghoulam and Filippo Costa are also suspended since September 3rd and September 1st respectively, and Davide Marfella is not eligible.
The 27-year-old left wingback/midfielder Robin Gosens is out with a hamstring injury. Center-back Matteo Locato is also ruled out with a muscle injury.
Gasperini will also miss the services of Federico Mattielo through suspension.
Possible Starting Lineups
- Ospina; G. Di Lorenzo, A. Rahmani, K. Koulibaly, M. Rui; P. Zielnsiki, S. Lobotka, F. Ruiz; H. Lozano, D, Mertens, L. Insigne
- Musso; B. Djimsiti, M. Demiral, R. Toloi; J. Maehle, M. de Roon, R. Freuler, D. Zappacosta; R. Malinovskyi, M. Pessina, D. Zapata
Players to Watch
In the absence of star striker Victor Osimhen, Dries Mertens stepped up with a brace in the 4-0 demolition of Lazio.
Mertens will be crucial in Napoli’s bid to maintain their unbeaten home record in the league against Atalanta.
Zapata scored the all-important goal that give Atalanta all three points against Juventus in Turin. He will be the key player to break down the Napoli defense and lead the line for the in-form Atalanta.
Expect Napoli to start with energy, keeping possession, and attacking with pace. Atalanta will look to press high and counter-press whenever they lose possession while using wingbacks for width.
While Napoli’s home form is impressive, Atalanta’s away from home is equally good. The two sides will share the points in a cagey affair.
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