Preview: Roma vs. Napoli

Preview: Roma vs. Napoli

Leaders Napoli put their perfect Serie A record on the line at Stadio Olimpico on Sunday, as they visit Roma in the season’s first Derby del Sole.

The two southern giants of Calcio convene in the capital separated by nine points in the table, with the Romans having hit their first rocky patch since the appointment of Jose Mourinho.

Napoli’s stunning start to the league season continued apace last Sunday, as a late header from in-form striker Victor Osimhen earned them a 1-0 win over Torino, despite Lorenzo Insigne missing a penalty for the second game in succession.

Not only did they manage to prolong their domestic winning run to an eighth straight game, but Luciano Spalletti’s side then turned their attention towards making up lost ground in continental competition, and did so by virtue of a ruthless final 15 minutes in midweek.

Still being held goalless by Europa League rivals Legia Warsaw – who stand above them in the Group C table – with time running out, substitutes Matteo Politano and the relentless Osimhen both added to Insigne’s 76th-minute opener to seal a 3-0 win over the Polish champions.

Having improved their prospects of progression in Europe, the Partenopei now return to the Italian peninsula, where they lead the way by two points from closest challengers Milan.

They will, this week, attempt to surpass a club record set under Maurizio Sarri in 2017-18, by posting a ninth consecutive victory in Serie A. Furthermore, success on Sunday would represent their fourth win in a row over Roma, as Napoli have won each of their last three league meetings – as many as in their previous 10 encounters.

A side which have so far conceded just three goals in Serie A have also won their last eight away league games – a remarkable run dating back to the reign of former boss Gennaro Gattuso.

As they prepare to welcome one of their more illustrious managers of recent times back to the Olimpico this weekend, Roma are experiencing their first major dip in fortunes after a rosy start to life under Jose Mourinho.

For the first time in his career, Mourinho saw his side concede six goals on Thursday, as the Giallorossi were humbled by Norwegian minnows Bodo/Glimt in the third-tier Europa Conference League.

A much-changed XI were thrashed 6-1 at the Aspmyra Stadion, and their coach pulled no punches in his assessment of their performance, calling Bodo “the team with more quality”.

Three successive away defeats in Serie A had previously stalled Roma’s early-season momentum – including last week’s 1-0 reverse to Juventus and a defeat in the Derby della Capitale – so Mourinho will be glad of a return to home turf.

The capital club have won each of their last six home games in the league; their best such run since a streak of 15 that ended in February 2017. Having now lost 10 times on the road for the first time in a calendar year since 2012, home advantage may be all that they have in their favour ahead of the ‘Derby of the Sun’.

Roma Serie A form:
Roma form (all competitions):
Napoli Serie A form:
Napoli form (all competitions):

We say: Roma 2-2 Napoli
No matter what difficulties Roma have endured on the road this year – and there have been more than a few – they are near-invincible on home soil, so should be able to bounce back from a trying week to pick up a point.

As a result, Napoli’s flawless record would fall, but they remain the side to beat under Luciano Spalletti, at the start of a long and absorbing Scudetto race which should keep us enthralled well into next year.

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