The Roma chase of Juventus appears over and with Napoli ten points clear of Fiorentina in 4th, this is the
The two met here last month in the Coppa Italia with Napoli recording a resounding 3-0 win and overcoming a 3-2 defeat in the first leg. They won last year's league meeting also by three goals (4-1) and feel they now have the upper hand, certainly here at the Stadio San Paolo. Ahead of the last meeting I wrote ....
This should be entertaining. Roma won the first leg 3-2 and one earlyish goal either way should see this follow a similar pattern. Both teams are treating the competition with respect and the game seriously. Roma failed to beat Lazio in the derby game at the weekend, but were unlucky IMO, the Gervinho "goal" would have been given by most match officials and the referee missed two clear yellow card fouls, which would have seen red's awarded for later infringements....but I am not bitter !
Roma are looking to make the final for the eighth time in a dozen seasons and are always especially motivated with the decider now played in their home stadium. You can read a lot of background notes on them in the Sunday newsletter. Team news is unchanged and they have travelled with the strongest squad available.
Coach Rudi Garcia made some telling comments saying...."We’ll play to win the game, at least initially. The game we play is made for attacking, and then we'll see how the match goes. Tomorrow could be the game of the season; in games this close we know we need everyone. Tomorrow we’ll go to Naples with the strength we have in this moment. We have enough of it."
I did not fully pick up on this "we’ll play to win the game, at least initially", which implied a negative approach alien to both club and players and handed the initiative to the hosts, who never need a second invitation to ride roughshod over any opponent. This is a new game, but Garcia made similar comments this week, speaking about the race for second and commenting something along the lines of "we just need a point, Napoli have to play for the win" and this could open the game up for a repeat.
The visitors arrive without favourite son, the talismanic Francesco Totti (15-5-7) he gives so much to the team just by being on the bench and even at 37 years of age, is hugely influential.Roma have a 44.5 win rate without him in the squad, that rises to 76.5% when he is available. Also missing today is suspended defensive midfielder Daniele De Rossi (23-1-0) and Roma always looks far more vulnerable without him in their ranks.
Hosts get Gonzalo Higuain and Raul Albiol back from suspension and look in great shape for this.
1.5 units Napoli -0.25 ball 2.12 asian line/Ibramarket.
Napoli have scored a high 57% of home goals before the break , Roma have scored just 15% of road goals in the opening 30 minutes so a good chance for the hosts to get ahead, especially if the visitors arrive with even a slightly negative mind set.