Preview: Napoli vs. Lazio

Preview: Napoli vs. Lazio

Last season’s top two clash at Stadio Maradona on Saturday, as Serie A champions Napoli host 2022-23 runners-up Lazio.

While the latter still seek their first points of the new season, their Neopolitan counterparts have made a perfect start to the defence of their Scudetto, scoring five times during back-to-back wins.

After winning the title by finishing no fewer than 16 points clear of Lazio last term, Napoli already lead their Roman rivals by six in the very early Serie A standings this season, having secured maximum points.

Reigning Capocannoniere Victor Osimhen continued his quest to defend that crown last weekend, when his first-half penalty followed a brace in the opening-day win over Frosinone and helped Napoli to a 2-0 victory over Sassuolo.

Another star of last season’s success, captain Giovanni Di Lorenzo, was also on target after the break in Reggio Emilia, as the Partenopei serenely saw off a home side reduced to 10 men after 51 minutes.

Under new boss Rudi Garcia, continuity has been key so far, as he takes on the task of repeating Napoli’s first Scudetto win for 33 years; and despite missing out on key target Gabri Veiga last week, Eintracht Frankfurt forward Jesper Lindstrom has since arrived to bolster Garcia’s talented squad.

In addition to their impressive goal tally so far, no team have found the target more or conceded fewer shots on target during the first two Serie A matchdays; boding well for Garcia’s hopes of emulating another ex-Roma coach, Luciano Spalletti, down in Campania.

His final task before the upcoming international break will be to tackle old foes Lazio, who Napoli have held the upper hand over since the clubs’ last league draw back in 2016.

In their last 13 league meetings with this week’s hosts, a total of 10 defeats and just three wins tell the tale of Lazio’s woes in this match-up; however, they did come out on top in the teams’ most recent contest, a 1-0 win at Stadio Maradona in March.

The last time Lazio won consecutive league games in Naples was way back in 1937, so precedent is certainly against current coach Maurizio Sarri as he again returns to his former club.

Defeated in both of their first two matches this term, the Biancocelesti have never lost all of their first three of any Serie A season throughout a long and illustrious history, yet that fate would await should they fail to take at least a point off the champions.

Following a late collapse at Lecce, Sarri’s side simply could not break through the resistance of promoted Genoa last week, when they came close to scoring on several occasions – with captain Ciro Immobile striking the woodwork – but ultimately suffered a 1-0 home defeat.

Immobile, set to make his 300th Lazio appearance on Saturday, is partly culpable for the capital club’s failure to get off the mark this term, as their shot conversion rate of just 3.9% contrasts with last season’s figure of 13.7% – the best rate of any team throughout Serie A.

The Italy international – who did at least score on the opening day – may need to re-find his top form over the months ahead, if Lazio are to both make up lost ground domestically and fare well in the Champions League group stage, where they join Napoli this autumn.

Napoli Serie A form:

Lazio Serie A form:

We say: Napoli 2-1 Lazio
The last league draw between these clubs came almost seven years ago, when Maurizio Sarri was in charge of Napoli. Given their sluggish start, Lazio would surely take a point from this high-profile clash at Stadio Maradona, but the hosts have started smoothly under new management and pose a greater goal threat.

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