MX23RW : Tuesday, March 2 06:17:21| >> :120:43489:43489:
Jan 24, 2021 at 2pm UK at Stadio Marc'Antonio Bentegodi, Verona
Hellas VeronaHellas Verona
3-1
NapoliNapoli
Dimarco (34'), Barak (62'), Zaccagni (79')
Magnani (60'), Zaccagni (80')
FT(HT: 1-1)
Lozano (1')
Demme (16'), Di Lorenzo (54'), Koulibaly (71')

Preview: Hellas Verona vs. Napoli - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Sunday's Serie A clash between Hellas Verona and Napoli, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

To end a week of highs and lows, Napoli visit mid-table Hellas Verona on Sunday, set on securing their spot among Serie A's top four.

Two sides with the best defensive records in the league meet at Stadio Bentegodi currently separated by seven places and six points in the standings.


Match preview

Napoli players including Tiemoue Bakayoko pictured on January 10, 2021© Reuters

Napoli and their Supercoppa Italiana opponents Juventus came into Wednesday's showpiece game on the back of two very different outcomes over the previous weekend - the Partenopei had crushed Fiorentina 6-0 at home, while Juve fell to a 2-0 defeat against Inter.

However, Gennaro Gattuso's industrious side came away from Sassuolo's Mapei Stadium without the silverware, after a 2-0 defeat to their loathed northern foes.

Despite such disappointment, their thoughts now return to the league, where - still with a game in hand on most teams around them - the Neapolitans can boast the best defence and third most effective attack.

No other side has conceded fewer than Napoli's 16 goals against so far, while only free-scoring Inter and Atalanta have fared better in front of goal.

In fact, Gattuso's men require three more strikes against Verona - admittedly a stern task, given the defensive resilience of their Gialloblu counterparts - to post a club-record total in the first half of a top flight campaign.

That goal-getting tally to date has been posted despite the prolonged absences of wantaway striker Arkadiusz Milik (who has just departed for Marseille), summer signing Victor Osimhen and Dries Mertens from the attack.

For the third-placed side to be considered genuine dark horses in the Scudetto race, however, it will be taking points from testing away encounters such as Sunday's that could tip the balance either way.

Hellas Verona manager Ivan Juric pictured in December 2020© Reuters

Though Verona are once again sitting comfortably inside the top half of the table, this week they face an opponent that has asserted absolute dominance over them in recent seasons.

Hellas have lost each and every one of their six Serie A meetings with Napoli since 2015-16, scoring only once during that run. In fact, the last time they won the equivalent to Sunday's home fixture, World Cup-winning striker Luca Toni scored a brace for the Venetian side.

Nonetheless, Ivan Juric's current team are a durable unit, capable of grinding out results on a regular basis - the last time they lost back-to-back Serie A games was as long ago as December 2019.

That remains a possibility this weekend though, as last time out, Verona were beaten 1-0 by badly out-of-form Bologna - managing only one shot on target in the process.

Star striker Nikola Kalinic fluffed a pair of presentable chances at Dall'Ara, but has done enough to prove that he can be much more effective than Juric's other striking options since his return from injury.

With goals still something of a problem, another centre-forward - rumoured to be Kevin Lasagna of Udinese - could soon be added to the squad, as Verona's highly-rated Croatian manager hopes to hang on to in-demand playmaker Mattia Zaccagni, who has had a direct hand in three of Verona's last four goals.

Faced with Napoli's battle-hardened defensive unit on Sunday, Hellas will need to have all cylinders firing if they are to end their terrible recent run versus the side from down south.

Hellas Verona Serie A form: DLWDWL

Napoli Serie A form: LDWLWW
Napoli form (all competitions): WLWWWL


Team News

Napoli manager Gennaro Gattuso pictured on January 10, 2021© Reuters

Napoli coach Gennaro Gattuso will again be without Fabian Ruiz (COVID-19) and full-back Kevin Malcuit (calf injury) for the trip to Bentegodi.

With both Victor Osimhen and Dries Mertens now returning to full fitness, the Partenopei are otherwise at full strength, though fellow forward Fernando Llorente is tipped to join Udinese in the coming days so may not be involved.

After an impressive outing against Fiorentina, Diego Demme will continue to deputise for Ruiz in midfield, with Alex Meret coming in for David Ospina in goal.

Verona have Marco Benassi, Andrea Favilli, Ronaldo Vieira, and captain Miguel Veloso unavailable, with Federico Ceccherini (thigh) also struggling to make kickoff.

Twin 'tens' Mattia Zaccagni and Antonin Barak should start in support of lone striker Nikola Kalinic, with Samuel Di Carmine awaiting an opportunity to make an impact from the bench.

Hellas Verona possible starting lineup:
Silvestri; Dawidowicz, Dimarco, Gunter; Faraoni, Lazovic, Ilic, Tameze; Barak, Zaccagni; Kalinic

Napoli possible starting lineup:
Meret; Di Lorenzo, Manolas, Koulibaly, Hysaj; Demme, Bakayoko; Lozano, Zielinski, Insigne; Petagna


SM words green background

We say: Hellas Verona 0-1 Napoli

As the two tightest defences in Italy share the field, the odds on a high-scoring thriller are slim - though Napoli do harbour the capacity to blow opponents away when in top gear.

With Hirving Lozano and Lorenzo Insigne in peak form - and forward colleague Dries Mertens back on the scene - it is surely the visitors that should be favoured to leave Verona with maximum points.


Top betting tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting over 1.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Over 1.5:data


ID:431598:cQx:QQ:

How you voted: Hellas Verona vs Napoli

Hellas Verona
18.6%
Draw
11.6%
Napoli
69.8%
86
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Premier League
Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Inter Milan24175260243656
2AC Milan24164447291852
3Juventus23137345202546
4Atalanta BCAtalanta24137455312446
5Roma24135648371144
6Lazio2413473832643
7Napoli23141849252443
8SassuoloSassuolo239863734335
9Hellas VeronaHellas Verona249873127435
10Sampdoria2493123336-330
11Bologna2477103237-528
12Udinese2477102633-728
13Genoa2468102636-1026
14Fiorentina2467112536-1125
15SpeziaSpezia2467113243-1125
16BeneventoBenevento2467112544-1925
17Torino2331193341-820
18CagliariCagliari2446142641-1518
19Parma2429131947-2815
20Crotone2433182357-3412

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