Sampdoria v Napoli – Stadio Luigi Ferraris – May 13 – Italian Serie A preview
Napoli has had one of the best Serie A seasons in recent times and whatever be the outcome of their Genoa outing against Sampdoria on Sunday night, the Gli Azzurri look well-entrenched in the 2nd spot they currently are in. Napoli held the top spot for the better part of the ongoing 2017-18 season, but a flurry of draws and a couple of defeats since March saw them relenting the pole position to Juventus.
Napoli have depended heavily on their ace Belgian striker Dries Mertens to get them goals. Along with Mertens, the other key players upfront have been Jose Callejon, Lorenzo Insigne and the indefatigable Marek Hamsik. The attacking quartet have appeared disjointed in the last fortnight or so, as evident from results of a 0-3 drubbing at the hands of Fiorentina and an uninspiring 2-2 home draw against Torino.
Sampdoria who held on to a steady 6th spot till February-mid, saw their fortunes slip after succumbing to 6 defeats in their last 12 Serie A outings. As a result, the Genoa-based club now find themselves in the 9th spot, 3 points behind 8th placed Fiorentina and in the danger of missing out on next season’s Europa League. The bulk of the Blucerchiati’s scoring have come from Fabio Quagliarella with 19 goals and one of Serie A’s top scorers and Duvan Zapata with 11. The duo have alone accounted for more than half of the 55 goals scored by their side. Zapata who was out with muscle fatique for the games against Cagliari and Sassuolo is expected to start off against Napoli on Sunday.
That the free-flowing Napoli are somewhat below their best is evident from the mere 13 goals they have scored from their previous 10 Serie A outings. Compare this to the 60 they got from just 26 games before that. The normally dependable back quartet of Mario Rui, Kalidou Koulibaly, Raul Albiol and Elseid Hysaj and the very dependable Pepe Reina at the goal have just been off-colour for sometime. In fact, half of the 28 goals conceded by Napoli have been in those last 10 outings – something that cannot have eluded Sampdoria coach Marco Giampaolo’s notice. The prolific scoring duo of Quagliarella and Zapata are perfect folks to exploit Napoli’s recent vulnerability at the back.
Sampdoria have defended their home turf well as evinced from the only three defeats they have conceded at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris this season. This compared to the 10 games thay have lost on the road. Napoli’s away record by constrast has been superb, the only match they have dropped being against Fiorentina at the Stadio Artemio Franchi, Florence, a fortnight ago.
Bookmakers are overwhelmingly wagering on a Napoli win on May 13th despite their shaky form of late. Sampdoria are likely to stay rooted at the 9th spot for some time to come.
Recommended Tip: Napoli to WIN, Best Odds 1.63 at Unibet
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