Preview: Napoli vs. Sampdoria

Preview: Napoli vs. Sampdoria

Two teams at opposite ends of the Serie A standings meet at Stadio Maradona on Sunday, as champions Napoli host relegated Sampdoria on the final day of the season.

A historic campaign for the Partenopei saw their 33-year wait for a Scudetto finally ended, while their Ligurian counterparts fell apart at the seams and will finish rock-bottom regardless of the result this weekend.

There is no doubt Napoli’s recent results have not matched their fantastic form throughout most of the season, but with the title long since sewn up they have been undertaking a victory tour over the past few weeks.

Change is afoot in Campania, due to managerial mastermind Luciano Spalletti opting to take a year-long sabbatical rather than defend the Scudetto and the likely departure of some integral cogs in his well-oiled machine.

Alongside defensive colossus Kim Min-jae, who so seamlessly replaced Kalidou Koulibaly after arriving last summer, star striker Victor Osimhen sits atop several clubs’ wish-lists, but his price tag crept even higher last weekend, as he all but secured the Capocannoniere crown.

Osimhen’s brace versus Bologna – which was ultimately only good enough for a 2-2 draw due to a second-half collapse – took him four goals clear of Inter’s Lautaro Martinez in the top-scorer standings, and the Nigerian’s partnership with wing wizard Kvicha Kvaratskhelia has lit up arenas around the Italian peninsula and beyond.

Ahead of their final fixture, Napoli sit 16 points ahead of second-placed Lazio, with 87 points already in the bag: the club’s second-highest tally in a Serie A campaign, behind the 91 picked up under Maurizio Sarri in 2017-18 – and that was still not enough to take top spot from Juventus.

In addition to blitzing their way to the Champions League quarter-finals before tamely surrendering to Milan, the Azzurri have scored the most goals (75) in Italy’s top flight this season, and they may fancy their chances of adding more during Sunday’s season finale.

Having found the net 49 times in their last 19 league games against Sampdoria – at an average of 2.6 goals per match – Napoli have also won each of their last eight Serie A meetings with the Genoa club.

That long run of losses represents Samp’s worst streak against a single opponent, and before they journey down to Naples this week, their last away win against Napoli came back in April 1998. Since then, there have been 12 defeats from 14 subsequent attempts.

Such fortunes closely mirror the Blucerchiati’s awful 2022-23 campaign, in which they have scored only 24 goals – one fewer than Osimhen – and posted just 19 points so far.

Despite switching Marco Giampaolo for Dejan Stankovic in mid-season, Sampdoria have failed to defy the drop and are on course for their lowest points tally in a Serie A season, having lost 24 times to date – their worst such total in a top-flight campaign.

Now bound for Serie B, and with the added pain of having to swap places with recently-promoted rivals Genoa, the 1991 Scudetto-winners will be under new ownership as they tackle the task of bouncing back at the first attempt.

Leeds United majority shareholder Andrea Radrizzani fronts the group which took over the financially-stricken club earlier this week, and they will have their hands full in rebuilding a broken playing squad.

With just three successes to their name all season, Samp have gone winless through their last 10 matches following a 2-2 draw against Sassuolo last time out, and now – for the first time in Serie A history – two teams separated by as many as 68 points will meet when they face Napoli.

Napoli Serie A form:

Sampdoria Serie A form:

We say: Napoli 2-0 Sampdoria
With history already made and several key men planning their exits, Napoli have been waning for a while now. However, they will want to sign off a superb campaign in style, so can put poor Samp to the sword again and reach 90 points for the season.

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