We preview the Serie A clash between Napoli and Roma, including our pre-match prediction for this huge top-flight clash on Sunday night in Italy at Stadio Diego Armando Maradona.

The Quick Hits

  • Napoli expected to pick up yet another win as they search for their first league title since 1990.
  • Victor Osimhen looking to at least equal last season’s Serie A goal tally of 14.
  • Paulo Dybala’s recent form gives Roma some hope of causing a shock in Naples on Sunday.

Match Preview

Napoli’s quest for their first Italian top-flight league title in 33 years continues this Sunday evening when they host Roma at the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona. Their previous two scudettos came in the Maradona era in 1987 and 1990, and a win in this match would seem them go even further towards achieving their only title without the Argentina great in their side.

Roma boss José Mourinho will come up against Luciano Spalletti for a sixth time in Serie A history, and it’s against the current Napoli coach that he has the worst win ratio in the competition of managers he’s faced at least four times. Mourinho has orchestrated just one Italian top-flight victory over Spalletti, which was their first meeting back in October 2008 when the Portuguese’s Internazionale side defeated Roma (then under Spalletti) 4-0 at the Stadio Olimpico. Since then, Mourinho’s lost one and drawn three of their four league encounters.

Mourinho vs Spalletti

Napoli’s recent Serie A record against Roma is great, with no defeats in their last six encounters (W4 D2 L0) and just one loss in their last nine against them (W5 D3 L1). The Rome side haven’t scored in four of their last five Serie A matches against Napoli, and in the other match during this run they only scored once. However, that goal was a crucial one – one that dented Napoli’s title hopes in 2021-22. Stephan El Shaarawy’s injury-time equaliser in Naples saw Napoli drop two crucial points, as a 1-0 win would have seen them close the gap on league leaders Milan to just two points with only five games remaining.

Napoli are unbeaten in their last four home league games against Roma (W2 D2). The last time that they went on a longer unbeaten streak against the Giallorossi in Serie A was between 1989-1995, when they went on a run of seven in a row. Roma haven’t won at the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona in a league encounter since March 2018, when they prevailed 4-2 after coming from 1-0 down.

Previous Meeting

Roma 0-1 Napoli: 23 October 2022 (Serie A)

Roma 0-1 Napoli Serie A 2022-23

Victor Osimhen’s strike in the 80th minute was the only goal of the game to seal Napoli’s 1-0 away win at Roma in October 2022. This win was Napoli’s seventh Serie A victory in a row (a run that eventually stretched to 11) and saw Roma fail to score for the third successive league game versus Napoli at Stadio Olimpico.

Roma didn’t attempt a single shot on target in this match. It was the first time that Roma hadn’t landed a single shot on target in a Serie A match since December 2015 under Rudi Garcia – coincidentally, also coming against Napoli. This was the first time in recorded history (since 2004-05) that Roma haven’t attempted a single shot on target in a Serie A home game.

Across former Real Madrid coach Mourinho’s 57-game tenure at AS Roma in Serie A, this 1-0 defeat saw them post their lowest expected goals total (0.32) and fewest touches in the opposition box (five) of any match.

Roma 0-1 Napoli October 2022

Recent Form

Napoli are on fire this season. They have secured 50 points at the halfway mark of the 2022-23 Serie A season, which is a club record and is one of only six occasions that a team have won at least 50 points at this stage of an Italian top-flight campaign (based on three points for a win).

The previous five clubs include Juventus’ efforts in 2005-06, whose seasonal record was eventually expunged following the Calciopoli trial.

Most Points after 19 Serie A Games in a Season

Napoli currently hold a 12-point lead over second-placed Milan in Serie A ahead of matchday 20. Converting to three points for a win, the only previous team to hold a gap this big over second place in the Serie A table were AC Milan in 1992-93 over rivals Inter Milan.

Spalletti’s side have averaged 2.63 points per game in Serie A this season. Across the top five European leagues in 2022-23 (heading into this weekend), only Arsenal can boast a points average that high. Napoli are also one of only six teams across these competitions to have lost only one match so far in 2022-23, alongside Arsenal, Barcelona, Lens, Bayern Munich and Newcastle United.

Napoli’s defensive record is the best in Serie A, with only 14 goals conceded this season. That tally is only bettered across the top five European leagues in 2022-23 by Barcelona (six), Newcastle United (11), Lens (13) and Villarreal (13).

Roma may be 13 points off Napoli, but they find themselves just a point off second-place Milan. Of their 37 points in Serie A this season, 21 have come away from home (57%) and only Napoli (25) have won more points in away games than Mourinho’s team have in 2022-23.

Roma head into this match on a six-game unbeaten league run, winning three and drawing three since 9 November 2022 – currently the longest unbeaten run in Serie A. Since the resumption of the league following the World Cup, they have kept the most clean sheets (three in four games) and allowed their opponents a league-low 2.3 expected goals.

Both sides have impressed defensively across 2022-23. Napoli (51) and Roma (54) have allowed opponents the fewest number of shots on target, while Roma’s 0.68 non-penalty xG faced per game is the lowest of any side in the top five European leagues this season. Napoli’s rate of 0.83 is the next best in Serie A and eighth best across the big Euro leagues.

After a late 1-0 winner in the previous meeting between Napoli and Roma, and their great defensive records in 2022-23, maybe expect a low-scoring affair by full-time on Sunday if you’re looking to make correct score predictions.

Players to Watch

Napoli: Victor Osimhen

If any player is going to unlock the best defence in Europe this season, it’ll be Napoli’s star striker. His 80th-minute winner at the Stadio Olimpico earlier this season came from a hopeful ball forward, before he outmuscled Roma’s Chris Smalling and smashed the ball into the net from a wide angle – proof that he has the ability to change a match out of nothing.

With 13 goals already in 2022-23, he’s just one away from his Serie A tally last season (14 in 27 games). That total was his career-high in a league season, ahead of 13 at Ligue 1 side Lille in 2019-20.

Osimhen Goals Serie A 2022-23

Across all Serie A players in 2022-23, Osimhen has the best per 90 average for non-penalty goals (0.93), shots (4.5), non-penalty xG (0.66) and touches in the opposition box (8.3).

The current Serie A top scorer has scored 11 goals in his last 10 Serie A appearances, including four in four since the resumption of the competition after the World Cup.

Team-mate Khvicha Kvaratskhelia has assisted four of his 13 Serie A goals this season. The only player to assist more for a single player in the competition is Sergej Milinković-Savić for Ciro Immobile at Lazio (five), while 10 of Osimhen’s shots have been created by Piotr Zieliński. The only player to create more chances for a single player in Serie A so far this season has been Sassuolo’s Armand Laurienté for Andrea Pinamonti.

Roma: Paulo Dybala

Dybala is, without a doubt, one of Roma’s most important players. In the six Serie A games that Dybala has played no part in this season, Mourinho’s side have won just seven points (W2 D1 L3). In the 13 games he’s played, Roma have a 69% win ratio and averaged 2.31 points per game.

Across their last two Serie A games, Dybala has scored twice (both in the 2-0 win over Fiorentina) and assisted the other two goals (in the 2-0 victory at Spezia), while he’s either attempted or created 11 of their 23 shots (48%) overall.

Only Ademola Lookman (six), Jeremie Boga (six) and Osimhen (five) have been directly involved in more goals than Dybala and Tammy Abraham (both four) since the start of 2023 in Serie A. Roma are one of the two sides (along with Atalanta) with at least two players involved in at least four goals since the beginning of the calendar year.

Roma Player Sequence Involvement Serie A 2022-23

Across the season, the Argentinian has been involved in 5.7 open-play shot-ending sequences per 90, which is the standout high of any Roma player.

Of players to have played at least 800 minutes in Serie A this season, only Napoli’s Kvaratskhelia (0.36) and Monza’s Patrick Ciurria (0.32) have a higher xG assisted per 90 rate than Dybala (0.31), with the forward an important part of creating chances for main striker Abraham.

Napoli vs Roma Prediction

Napoli vs Roma Prediction Opta

Our supercomputer predicts win number 17 for SSC Napoli in Serie A this season. Spalletti’s side are being given a 50.6% chance of winning the encounter on Sunday evening, with a home win given more of a chance than a draw or away win combined (49.6%).

With Roma’s 21 points won away from home behind only Napoli’s 25, maybe there’s a chance that Roma can pull off a shock against the runaway league leaders.

Even if a shock does occur, the supercomputer believes the title race is all but over in its latest Serie A predictions. Napoli’s 97.5% chance of winning their first league title since 1989-90 leaves the next-highest favourite as Internazionale on just 1.2%.

A positive result in this match for Roma will set them up nicely ahead of their midweek Coppa Italia quarter-final with Cremonese, who defeated Napoli on penalties in the last round.

Their main objective this season would have been to secure UEFA Champions League football after a four-year absence. Our predictions give them a 54.8% chance of finishing within the top four of the league standings at the end of the season and doing just that.

Serie A 2022-23 Prediction January 2023

Serie A Matchday 20 Predictions: Other Games

Here’s how the Opta supercomputer sees the other nine Serie A matches across this matchday turning out…

Bologna vs. Spezia: home win (47.3%), away win (25.1%), draw (27.6%).

Lecce vs. Salernitana: home win (45.9%), away win (26.3%), draw (27.8%).

Empoli vs. Torino: home win (35.8%), away win (34.3%), draw (29.9%).

Cremonese vs. Internazionale: home win (13.5%), away win (63.4%), draw (23.1%).

Atalanta vs. Sampdoria: home win (65.3%), away win (13.1%), draw (21.6%).

Milan vs. Sassuolo: home win (57.6%), away win (17.9%), draw (24.5%).

Juventus vs. Monza: home win (55.9%), away win (18.2%), draw (25.9%).

Lazio vs. Fiorentina: home win (52.4%), away win (21.3%), draw (26.3%).

Udinese vs. Hellas Verona: home win (41.0%), away win (29.7%), draw (29.3%).

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