Following last week’s disappointing defeat to Parma, Rafa Benitez admitted that Napoli would more than likely have to settle for 3rd place in Serie A this season. With a 12 point deficit to 2nd place Roma and Fiorentina 9 points behind in fourth, there appears to be little at stake for the Neapolitans ahead of this season’s run-in. Benitez, however, will be looking for a positive reaction from his players as they entertain Lazio at the San Paolo in Naples. The Biancocelesti, meanwhile, will be highly motivated to take home 3 points in the hotly contested race for the Europa League places – with 5 points separating 4th to 11th in the table, every point will be crucial between now and the end of the season.
Napoli’s form in recent weeks has been largely indicative of the their season as a whole, featuring bright points intermingled with some less convincing performances – hard-fought victories over Juventus and Catania stand in contrast to losses to home to Fiorentina and at Parma last time out. Edoardo Reja’s Lazio will hope to build on two successive victories in Serie A, with in-form Senad Lulic and Antonio Candreva registering in both games.
Recent meetings between the two sides have tended to be entertaining, with Napoli winning 4-2 at the Olimpico in December. Gonzalo Higuain was the star that night and getting the best out of the Argentine will be first order of business for the Partinopei. Lazio will be looking to capitalise on a less than convincing Napoli defence, but will not be able to count on the attacking threat of the injured Miroslav Klose – instead, Portugal international Helder Postiga will lead the line, ably supported by Candreva and Lulic.
Things to look out for on Sunday:
- The movement Lazio’s wide men vs Napoli defenders;
- Napoli’s midfield trio to dictate the tempo (likely Gokhan Inler, Jorginho, and Marek Hamsik);
- Napoli’s use of attacking options from the bench.
© Daniel Wegher, 2014