Can Napoli maintain their incredible 100% record, or will Roma bounce back from a humiliating defeat in Norway?
Serie A leaders Napoli will put their perfect league record on the line at the Stadio Olimpico on Sunday, as they visit Roma in this season’s first Derby del Sole. The two southern giants of Italian football clash in the capital, separated by nine points in the table, with the Romans having hit their first difficult period since the appointment of Jose Mourinho as head coach.
Roma expect to have Nicolo Zaniolo back in the fold for Sunday’s game, after the talented playmaker picked a knee injury last weekend. The niggle subsequently kept him out of the embarrassing midweek 6-1 loss to Bodø/Glimt in Norway in their UEFA Europa Conference League midweek match-up.
The Italian international will be among a host of changes from Jose Mourinho’s midweek line-up, as Jordan Veretout, Gianluca Mancini, Tammy Abraham, and club captain Lorenzo Pellegrini should come back into the starting XI.
Meanwhile, Guinean Amadou Diawara, Borja Mayoral, and Marash Kumbulla will most likely be dropped for this fixture.
Chris Smalling is once again missing with a thigh problem, which will keep him out for another week, and the Englishman will probably be replaced by Roger Ibanez at the heart of the home side’s backline.
Napoli coach Luciano Spalletti is also poised to alter the team upon his return to the Stadio Olimpico, although not to the same extent as Roma’s Portuguese boss.
Kostas Manolas is now fit enough to find a place on the bench, while Mario Rui returns from a European suspension to further bolster the visitors’ options at the back. Squad players Kevin Malcuit and Adam Ounas are, though, set to be side-lined again.
Up front, Victor Osmihen and Matteo Politano should return to join tireless skipper Lorenzo Insigne in a potent three-man hit squad, and in midfield, Fabian Ruiz comes back into the central three of Napoli’s engine room.
No matter what difficulties Roma have endured on their travels this year, they are almost invincible on home soil, so they should be able to bounce back from a difficult week to pick up a point. As a result, Napoli’s 100% record would fall. Our prediction is 1-1.