Preview: Bologna vs. Napoli

Preview: Bologna vs. Napoli

In their final road trip of a historic 2022-23 campaign, Serie A champions Napoli travel to Bologna, where the two clubs clash at Stadio Dall’Ara on Sunday.

Both teams enjoyed impressive wins last week, as the Azzurri ensured they had beaten every other team in the division by seeing off Inter; their hosts consigned Cremonese to the drop with a 5-1 thumping.

Still basking in the glory of winning a first Scudetto for 33 years, Napoli’s recent results have not matched their scintillating form throughout most of the season – but they put on quite a show in Naples last weekend.

Having seen Inter go down to 10 men before half time, Luciano Spalletti’s side took a while to break through the visitors’ massed ranks in defence, but a dominant display was ultimately rewarded when Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa opened the scoring on 67 minutes and captain Giovanni Di Lorenzo later found the top corner for his fifth goal of the season – the full-back’s highest tally since joining the club.

Local lad Gianluca Gaetano capped off a 3-1 win over the Champions League finalists with his stoppage-time strike, helping Napoli bounce back from defeat to Monza a week earlier.

In addition, they completed the set by beating all 19 opponents in a single season for the first time in the club’s long Serie A history, and they will now attempt to do the double over Bologna.

While the Azzurri were beaten by Monza in their most recent away fixture, they last lost consecutive league matches on the road back in February 2021, so Spalletti will expect his team to increase their 17-point gap to second-placed Inter in the standings.

According to most reports, the Tuscan tactician and sporting director Cristiano Giuntoli – both of whom have masterminded Napoli’s surge to the summit – are heading for the exit after next week’s finale at home to Sampdoria. Possibly bound for a sabbatical, Spalletti in particular will be keen to sign off in style.

Ahead of the champions’ arrival in Emilia-Romagna this week, Bologna have lost 11 of their last 14 meetings with Napoli in Serie A – including each of the last five by an aggregate score of 12-3.

Therefore, history is not on the hosts’ side before the teams go toe-to-toe once again, but more recent results suggest they can certainly test their illustrious visitors from down south.

In addition to last week’s destruction of Serie B-bound Cremonese – when fit-again Marko Arnautovic broke the deadlock at Stadio Zini and four more Bologna players followed him onto the scoresheet – the Rossoblu have also proved tough to beat on home soil.

They have lost just three of 18 league games at the Dall’Ara in 2022-23, drawing each of their last three – against Calcio heavyweights Milan, Juventus and Roma.

Indeed, no team has conceded fewer home goals than Bologna this season, so they may hope to increase a points tally of 50 that sees them close to posting a top-half finish under Thiago Motta, who has steadied the ship since arriving mid-season.

The Emilian club could yet beat their best finish of 10th since gaining promotion eight years ago – particularly as they will close out their campaign against lowly Lecce next week – but a note of caution: Napoli have scored the most away goals in Serie A and have also conceded the fewest.

Bologna Serie A form:

Napoli Serie A form:

We say: Bologna 1-1 Napoli
Napoli have been far less prolific since the start of April, and faced by a buoyant Bologna side that rarely loses at home they may have to settle for a point. The Rossoblu have come on in leaps and bounds since Thiago Motta was appointed, and they are not afraid of taking on Serie A’s big boys.

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