Napoli v Roma
Sunday 9th March: Live on Bet365 streaming 7:45PM
The pick of this weekend’s European action comes from Naples as Serie A rivals Napoli and Roma do battle in the race for second-place.
With defending champions Juventus coasting to the title with a 11-point lead, it appears that Rudi Garcia and Rafael Benitez are fighting for the runner-up spot. Whilst it might not be the same as winning, finishing second would be rewarded with an automatic spot in next season’s Champions League so there’s still a lot to play for at the Stadio San Paolo on Sunday night.
An already fierce rivalry could be about to spark into life. Expect it to be explosive.
Garcia’s Roma head into this fixture boasting the league advantage and will probably be content with a point in Naples.
In public, the Roma manager will insist that his side can overturn that 11-point deficit to Juventus – particularly as they have a game in hand on the leaders – but deep down even the most ardent Giallorossi supporter would concede that Scudetto is heading back to Turin once again.
Nonetheless, finishing second would signal great improvement since the appointment of Garcia. A disappointing campaign last year saw Roma finish and it’s good to see them back amongst the top clubs in Italy, which is where they belong.
After starting extremely well, Benitez’s Napoli have fallen off the pace in recent weeks. Two wins in their last seven Serie A matches is nowhere near good enough to challenge Juventus and they will need to rediscover their form if they are going to secure a return to Champions League football next season.
Napoli hold a seven-point lead over Fiorentina so Benitez can afford to throw caution to the wind against Roma. Having played a game more, they trail Giallorossi by six points and simply must win this contest in order to keep their hopes of second place alive.
It will be a tough ask, but they do have the ability to do it.
Napoli Look To Build On Cup Success
The pair last met in February’s Copa Italia semi-final, where Gil Azzurri turned a first-leg deficit around with a 3-0 triumph at home to record a stunning 5-3 aggregate victory, cementing a place in the final.
Benitez will be hoping for more of the same in this league encounter.
On that occasion, Gonzalo Higuain was amongst the goals and Napoli will rely on their Argentine hero once more on Sunday. The former Real Madrid forward has 13 league strikes to his name, which leaves him joint third in the scoring charts. allejon, who also scored in that famous Coppa Italia win, has additionally chipped in with 9 goals to soften the weight of expectation and Benitez knows that attack may be the best form of defence against Roma.
Napoli’s return of 51 goals this term is only beaten by leaders Juventus. However, their defence has shipped 18 more than Roma – who boast the most economic defence in the division – and cannot afford any blunders at the back in this one.
It should be a thrilling contest.
Napoli v Roma Live Stream & Betting
Bet365 think this is a tough one to call but have established the home side as 7/5 favourites, whilst Roma are 15/8 and the draw is 23/10.
Although Napoli did record that phenomenal 3-0 win here just last month, it seems unlikely that lighting will strike twice. Rudi Garcia will have learnt from those mistakes and, with 11 goals conceded all season, are likely to keep things tight at that back.
Napoli under 1.5 teams goals is 4/6, or for a bit of value take the Roma clean sheet at 3/1.
The away side can probably settle for a draw and may set their stall out to do that from the off. If they do that could start to frustrate Benitez’s men. Meanwhile, tensions in the stands between these two culminated in Roma being forced to close parts of Stadio Olimpico as punishment for anti-Naples chanting and combined with the rivalry on the pitch it could lead to a feisty affair.
Once this game comes in-play, look at the bookings and red card markets as there could be some value there.
Depending on the result, the big winners here could be leaders Juventus. The champions elect may have already extended their lead, as they host Fiorentina in the early kick-off, and will no doubt be watching with interest.
The draw is a definite player at 23/10 with Bet365
Roma’s tactical approach could be pivotal to how this one pans out. Therefore, it may be worth watching the first 10 minutes of the Live Stream in order to gauge which way this match is heading – unless you are backing unders on the goal lines.