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Napoli to win entertaining clash against Empoli

 

On Friday night, Napoli host Empoli at the San Paolo in Serie A, as the home side look to make up ground on league leaders Juventus at the top of the table.

Napoli heads into this game third place in the Italian top-flight, six points behind the Bianconeri. The home side’s recent record in Serie A has been fairly strong, as they have won five of their last seven league outings. Last time out in Serie A they drew 1-1 at home against Roma.

The team from Naples have been relatively prolific of late in the Italian top-flight, scoring at least two goals in four of their last six outings.

Napoli have a strong recent home record in Serie A, as they are unbeaten in ten games on home soil, recording eight wins in the process. The home side has also scored at least two goals in seven of their last nine league games at the San Paolo.

Empoli are currently 18th place in the Italian top-flight, having picked up just six points from their ten league games so far this season. The visitors have recorded just one league win this season, which came on the opening weekend of the campaign.

They are now winless in nine league games. Last time out in Serie A, the visitors suffered a 2-1 home defeat against Juventus.

A poor defensive record has hindered their Serie A campaign, as they have conceded at least two goals in their last six league games.

Empoli are currently on a seven-game winless run on their travels in Serie A, having suffered five defeats. Their recent away games in the league have been high scoring, with over 2.5 goals scored in seven of their last nine matches.

Sportseconds predicts that Napoli will record a victory in a high scoring clash to move back up to second place in the table.

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Crotone 0 Napoli 1: Hamsik adds to record haul for Serie A leaders

Marek Hamsik celebrated his new status as Napoli’s all-time record goalscorer by netting decisively in the Serie A leaders’ 1-0 win at Crotone.

Napoli wore shirts adorned with commemorative patches to honour Hamsik scoring his 116th goal for the club against Sampdoria last weekend – surpassing Diego Maradona’s long-standing record.

The Slovakia midfielder continued a current purple patch to score his third in as many matches with an assured finish after 17 minutes, extending the advantage over Juventus for Maurizio Sarri’s men at the summit to four points ahead of the weekend action.

Hamsik had number 117 in his sights after 10 minutes when he exchanged passes with Lorenzo Insigne but saw his effort deflected behind by Stefan Simic.

It arrived soon enough when, following another one-two – this time with Allan – Hamsik broke into the Crotone box and drilled an unerring low shot beyond Alex Cordaz.

It was a swashbuckling display at times from the Serie A leaders, who were denied a second when Cordaz extended himself to tip over when a brilliant dummy from Jose Callejon set up Insigne.

Crotone, who will see in the new year in the relegation zone, improved after the break and a sloppy clearance from Napoli goalkeeper Pepe Reina almost allowed Marcello Trotta to equalise from out on the right flank.

Reina’s opposite number Cordaz was busy excelling himself, getting a vital touch to a curing Insigne strike from 25 yards that came back off the bar

A magnificent double save from substitute Amadou Diawara’s long-ranger and Callejon on the follow-up concluded a fine night’s work from Cordaz.

Napoli take the informal title of campioni d’inverno or winter champions, with victory ensuring they are leaders at the halfway stage of Serie A. Two seasons ago, Napoli became the only side over the past decade to earn this distinction and not claim the title in May.

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Napoli to Finish 2017 with a Bang

Serie A resumes after Christmas with a match on Friday night between Crotone and Napoli at the Stadio Ezio Scida.

Napoli will be aiming to end the year sitting top of the league and know a win will guarantee them first place heading into the New Year, regardless of other results.

A win is a must for Crotone if they want to escape the relegation zone and begin the second half of the season in a safe position in the league. There is all to play for in a game which has an impact on both the top and bottom of Serie A.

Crotone start this match sitting 18th in Serie A and trends show they have won only one of their last six league games and one of their last seven in all competitions. Not only have Crotone won just one of their last six league games, they have lost five of them too.

This is a poor record and it is easy to see why, having picked up just 3 points from the last possible 18 available, Crotone are in the relegation zone.

Scoring goals has become a big problem for Crotone in recent weeks and they have failed to find the back of the net in four of their last six Serie A games.

Napoli start this match 1 point clear of Juventus at the top of Serie A having recovered well from a period of games which threatened to ruin their great start to the campaign.

Having lost 1-0 at home to the defending champions, Napoli lost at Feyenoord in the Champions League and were then held at home by Fiorentina. Talk was beginning to emerge of a possible Napoli collapse.

However, following the draw with Fiorentina, Napoli have won three games in a row in all competitions, picking up wins against Torino and Sampdoria in Serie A and Udinese in the Coppa Italia.

Trends show Napoli are undefeated in each of their last twenty-two matches away from home in Serie A, which is a fantastic record.

They have also won eleven of their last twelve league games on the road, so not only are Napoli difficult to beat, they have been winning matches regularly.

Looking ahead to the potential team news and Crotone will be without forward Marco Tumminello, who is expected to remain on the treatment table until February.

Napoli also have a couple of long-term absentees, with striker Arkadiusz Milik and full-back Faouzi Ghoulam both suffering from cruciate ligament injuries. Milik is closest to a return but not until February at the earliest.

Having got back into the habit of winning matches, Napoli will be in no mood to drop points in this game. They have a fantastic away record in Serie A and will see this as the perfect opportunity to win and keep a clean sheet.

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The battle for dominance. Napoli vs Juventus

The encounter between these two Italian giant clubs on the 1st day of the last month in the year 2017 will certainly be nothing less than a mouthwatering clash, the two sides have always stood neck to neck in the scudetto race in the past few seasons.

Juventus without hesitation have dominated the Serie A for the past six seasons, claiming the scudetto prize on those six occasions. It seems that Juventus will finally lose their grip as the dominating club in Italy when they path ways with exceptional players such as Tevez, Arturo Vidal and Paul Pogba in succession.

However, they’ve always find a way to keep the team’s level and they’ve never stopped performing at a high level even in the UEFA Champions League, reaching the final on two occasions in the last four seasons, though they were pipped to the trophy on those two occasions by Barcelona and Real Madrid respectively.

There are several teams in Italy who could challenge the dominance of Juventus, teams like; Roma, Inter Milan, AC Milan, Lazio and many more, But only Napoli has shown the potency strong enough to push Juve aside. Will they eventually be successful? No one knows and time will certainly tell, even though there are high expectations this season.

Napoli are not just presently a strong team, they are certainly an exciting side to watch, Pep Guardiola considered them to be probably the best team he has ever faced and heaped praises on their manager, Maurizio Sarri, who has done excellently well so far. Pep and Sarri both share the same philosophy about football, and they are admired for their teams attacking prowess.

Both Juventus and Napoli have lost 1 of their last 6 matches in all competition. And of course, Napoli lost to a highflying Manchester city who are presently considered to be the best team in Europe ahead of Barcelona, PSG and Real Madrid. While Juventus lost 2-3 at home against a 6th placed Sampdoria in the league.

Napoli are unbeaten in their last 26 league games, 14 of which are in this present campaign.

Juventus even in their not so good form are the team with the highest number of goals scored in the league, 40. 12 of which are from Paolo Dybala and 8 from Higuaín who is presently recovering from a hand surgery. Even though the doctors did not specify the date of his return, Higuaín who sat out of Juve’s victory over Crotone will obviously recover in time to feature against his former side.

Napoli alongside Roma have conceded the fewest number of goals, 9 in the ongoing league campaign.

The clash between these two sides have always been a fierce one, and Juve might have clinched the scudetto for the past 6 consecutive seasons, they’ve only managed to claim 1 victory in their last 13 visits to Stadio San Paolo (D4, L8)

Juventus lies in 3rd position, 4 points adrift of 1st placed Napoli and will be without the experiences of Gorgio Chiellini at the back, for this clash, and that could be a telling point.

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Napoli 2 AC Milan 1: Insigne stars after Italy snub as leaders move four points clear

Lorenzo Insigne and Piotr Zielinski scored as Napoli beat AC Milan 2-1 at the San Paolo on Saturday to move four points clear at the top of the Serie A table.

Insigne was an unused substitute as Italy were beaten by Sweden in their World Cup play-off during the international break and he was on a mission to prove Gian Piero Ventura wrong.

Ventura was berated by Roma midfielder Daniele De Rossi for not turning to Insigne during the Azzurri’s 1-0 aggregate loss, the coach paying for the defeat by losing his job.

And Insigne was on target as Napoli took the lead after 33 minutes thanks to a video assistant referee referral showing the forward was just onside when he ran on to Jorginho’s terrific pass to score.

While Milan put the hosts under pressure in the second half, Napoli wrapped up the points when a sublime Dries Mertens pass sent Zielinski clear to nutmeg Gianluigi Donnarumma, with Alessio Romagnoli’s injury-time effort a mere consolation.

Though the win sees unbeaten Napoli stretch their advantage over champions Juventus – who are in action at Sampdoria on Sunday – Milan stay four points adrift of the European places in seventh after suffering a sixth league defeat of the campaign.

Jorginho smashed an early effort over the crossbar for the hosts before Donnarumma made a smart near-post save after 13 minutes when Insigne floated a cross on to the head of Jose Callejon as the league leaders dominated the early exchanges.

Suso lashed Milan’s first effort wildly off target before a more accurate strike from the playmaker called Pepe Reina into action for the first time.

Allan and Marek Hamsik both hit decent openings straight at Donnarumma, but Napoli’s profligacy did not stop them breaking the deadlock, Insigne scoring his fifth goal in as many appearances against Milan.

Jorginho sent his fellow Italy international through on goal to beat Donnarumma with a smart lofted finish, the officials initially disallowing Insigne’s strike before a video replay showed Romagnoli was playing him marginally onside.

Insigne went close to adding a second on the brink of half-time, but Donnarumma sprang high to his left to parry the shot away.

And the same pattern of play continued after the interval, the teenager denying Mertens and Hamsik in quick succession as Napoli sought a second goal.

A bright spell of Milan pressure yielded no clear chances, Leonardo Bonucci showing his frustration by shooting off target from the halfway line.

Perhaps inevitably, Napoli put the game to bed with a trademark counter-attack after 72 minutes.

Mertens sent Zielinski clear with a superb turn and pass, the Poland international rifling a first-time left-footed strike through the legs of an exposed Donnarumma.

Giacomo Bonaventura and Nikola Kalinic forced saves from Reina as a desperate Milan rallied and the visitors scored a consolation in stoppage time.

For once Napoli switched off at the back and Romagnoli smashed in a superb strike, but Maurizio Sarri’s side held on to extend their unbeaten run to 25 Serie A games.

Key Opta stats:

– Lorenzo Insigne has netted 6 goals in 10 Serie A matches against AC Milan – at least two more than against any other side.
– Napoli have won five of their last six league matches against AC Milan (D1 L0).
– AC Milan are only the second team to have had no touches in the opposition box in the first half of a Serie A game this season (after Benevento, who failed to do so against Napoli and Juventus).
– Gianluigi Donnarumma had eight saves tonight, his best tally in a competitive game for AC Milan this season.
– Zielinski’s goal was the 100th conceded by Donnarumma in 92 appearances for AC Milan in all competitions.

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Napoli 3 Sassuolo 1: Partenopei go clear at Serie A summit

Napoli moved three points clear at the Serie A summit with a comfortable 3-1 win over struggling Sassuolo at Stadio San Paolo on Sunday.

Brazilian midfielder Allan opened the scoring midway through the first half for Maurizio Sarri’s side before Diego Falcinelli scored an undeserved equaliser in the 41st minute.

Napoli’s advantage was restored on the stroke of half-time as goalkeeper Andrea Consigli parried a corner into his own net to concede a goal that was attributed to Jose Callejon, before Dries Mertens ensured a 10th win in 11 league games with a second-half strike.

Inter can move second and close the leaders’ advantage to two points if they win against Hellas Verona on Monday, but it is the Partenopei who are setting a blistering early pace in the race for the Scudetto.

The visitors almost took a shock lead after just 11 minutes, but Stefano Sensi’s whipped free-kick from the edge of the penalty area crashed back off Jose Reina’s crossbar.

Sensi then played an unfortunate role in Napoli’s opener in the 22nd minute. The midfielder took too long to clear on the edge of his own area and had his pocket picked by Allan, who coolly slotted through the legs of Consigli.

Faouzi Ghoulam came agonisingly close to extending the hosts’ lead shortly after, thumping a half volley against the post after a corner fell kindly to him.

Sassuolo responded well to the setback and scored an unlikely leveller four minutes before the break. Matteo Politano delivered a teasing cross from the right and Falcinelli beat his marker to plant a firm header past Reina for his first goal of the season.

Their joy was short-lived, though, as Consigli conspired to punch Lorenzo Insigne’s corner, which had glanced off the head of Callejon, into this own net just a minute before half-time to restore Napoli’s lead.

Mertens’ stunning form continued nine minutes into the second half as he bundled home Raul Albiol’s knockdown for his 10th league goal of the campaign.

Francesco Cassata thumped a header against the post as Sassuolo tried in vain to find a way back into the game, while substitute Piotr Zielinski was denied a fourth late on for Sarri’s side as his long-range effort hit both posts before being scooped up by Consigli, who also saw an injury-time strike from Mertens flash narrowly wide.

Key Opta stats:

– Dries Mertens played his 200th games for Napoli in all competitions (80 goals).
– The Belgian has found the net in each of the last two Serie A clashes against Sassuolo.
– Diego Falcinelli took 19 shots to score his first goal in Serie A this season.
– Just four of Callejon’s 52 Serie A goals have come from outside the box.
– Napoli have not lost any of their first 11 Serie A match-days of the season for the first time since 1989-90, when they won the Scudetto.
– Sassuolo have set a new negative record of points taken after 11 match-days, eight – they picked up nine in their very first season in the top flight.

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Napoli 0 Inter 0: Handanovic heroics put an end to Partenopei´s winning streak

Inter put an end to Napoli’s 100 per cent record in Serie A this season as Italy’s top two fought out a fascinating but ultimately frustrating 0-0 draw at Stadio San Paolo on Saturday.

Looking to get back to winning ways following Tuesday’s 2-1 Champions League loss to Manchester City, league leaders Napoli were denied a ninth straight league victory by the brilliance of visiting goalkeeper Samir Handanovic.

The Slovenian produced a sparkling double save in the first half of a tense battle and denied Dries Mertens in injury time as the hosts failed to find the net for the first time since a 2-0 loss to Atalanta in February.

While Napoli failed to make it nine wins on the spin, the result at least maintains their two-point lead over nearest rivals Inter at the summit.

However, the draw also allows reigning champions Juventus – who travel to Udinese on Sunday – the chance to close the gap on the top two in what is shaping up to be an enthralling early title race.

Having sat out the midweek loss in Europe, midfield duo Jorginho and Allan both returned to Napoli’s starting XI. There was also the unexpected inclusion of Lorenzo Insigne, who had hobbled off in the second half at the Etihad Stadium with a right adductor strain.

Inter, meanwhile, had enjoyed a satisfying break after their exertions in the Derby della Madonnina last Sunday, allowing Luciano Spalletti to pick an unchanged side.

The visitors were indebted to Handanovic for coming through a lively first half unscathed, as the goalkeeper denied Napoli twice in quick succession in the 20th minute.

Having initially dived low to his left to keep out a first-time drive from Jose Callejon, Handanovic reacted quickly while still grounded to flip his body to the right and block Mertens’ attempt to convert the rebound.

Mauro Icardi and Borja Valero did force Pepe Reina into action as Inter grew as an attacking threat, yet they were fortunate Insigne failed to convert a free header from Marek Hamsik’s lofted pass to the back post.

A break from deep by Matias Vecino breached Napoli’s high defensive line early in the second half but although he rounded Reina, his chip from a tight angle was drifting wide before the retreating Elseid Hysaj headed clear.

Captain Hamsik failed to take an opportunity to draw level with Diego Maradona on 115 goals for Napoli from Callejon’s clever knockdown, dragging his attempt wide to the left from the edge of the area.

But, as has become common in games this season, the hosts faded as an attacking force once the influential Hamsik – a driving force in their engine room – was withdrawn in the 71st minute.

After replacement Piotr Zielinski tested his reactions with a stinging volley from distance, Handanovic denied Mertens again with a point-blank save as the game slipped into stoppage time.

While still without a win at the ground since 1997, Inter at least held firm to pick up a point and deny Maurizio Sarri’s usually free-scoring side from stretching their lead in the standings.

Key Opta stats:

– Inter have drawn a match 0-0 for the first time in Serie A since October 2015 (vs Juventus), 734 days ago.
– Napoli have drawn a match 0-0 in Serie A for the first time since Genoa-Napoli (September 2016), 41 league matches ago.
– Inter and Napoli have recorded the most clean sheets (five) in this Serie A season.
– Inter and Napoli are the only two teams still unbeaten in Serie A in 2017-18.
– Inter have failed to score in the last three Serie A clashes against Napoli.
– Inter fired only two shots on target in the match, less than in any other Serie A 2017-18 game.
– Inter are unbeaten after the first nine Serie A matchdays for the first time since 2007-08.

-Napoli are unbeaten after the first nine Serie A matchdays for the first time since 1989-90.

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Manchester City v Napoli: The numbers behind Europe´s most lethal attacks

Manchester City and Napoli will lock horns in the Champions League on Tuesday having torn up the record books with their remarkable goalscoring feats over the opening weeks of the season.

Maurizio Sarri’s Napoli are top of Serie A with a 100 per cent record after eight matches, scoring 26 times in the process.

No side has enjoyed such a prolific opening to an Italian top-flight season since 1959-60, while you have to go back to Everton in the 1894-95 campaign for an English side who netted more than City’s 29 over an initial eight-game period.

Sarri described City as “by far the strongest team in Europe at the moment” at his pre-match news conference, while Pep Guardiola also lavished praise on a counterpart very much cut from the same coaching cloth.

But who is leading the charge for these two lethal attacks, who are the main creators and how are they taking opponents apart with such apparent ease? Ahead of a mouth-watering clash, we looked at some Opta data to find out.

Majestic Mertens leads the way

Napoli’s Belgium forward Dries Mertens is the top league goalscorer on either side with seven goals, building on his stunning haul of 28 in 35 matches last season when Sarri’s decision to deploy the 30-year-old in a central attacking role proved a masterstroke.

Mertens’ colleagues in a front three Guardiola hailed as “so dynamic”, Jose Callejon and Lorenzo Insigne, have four and three respectively, while there is a three-way tie at the top of City’s goalscoring charts.

Sergio Aguero, Gabriel Jesus and Raheem Sterling have each scored six times in the Premier League, while Germany winger Leroy Sane has weighed in with four.

Silva service edges maestro De Bruyne

Kevin De Bruyne’s imperious recent run of form led to Guardiola fielding questions on Monday that mentioned Mertens’ countryman in the same breath as Lionel Messi.

However, De Bruyne is not City’s most prolific provider, with long-serving playmaker David Silva supplying six assists to the ex-Wolfsburg star’s five.

Insigne underlines his all-round value to the Napoli attack with four assists, more than any of his team-mates. Faouzi Ghoulam is next on the Serie A side’s list with three – the same number as Aguero and Sane – while Mertens and Callejon have laid on two apiece.

Grinding the opposition down

The commonality of Guardiola and Sarri favouring a quick, short passing game, allayed to high pressing when out of possession, is illustrated by some parallels when City’s and Napoli’s goals are broken down.

Their relentless approach makes them an exhausting proposition for any opponent and both teams are most prolific after half-time. In top-flight games this season, Napoli and City each have 10 first-half goals against 16 and 19 after the break respectively.

The period between 76 and 90 minutes is comfortably the most fruitful for City, with nine goals, while Guardiola’s men are surprisingly yet to score inside the opening 15 minutes of a Premier League match in 2017-18.

Napoli should try to exploit their status as the faster starters on Tuesday, having netted four times between 0-15 minutes in Serie A.

Penalty box predators

Passing through teams to craft clear openings is another thing both teams do in expert fashion.

It is therefore no surprise to see shots from inside the penalty area accounting for the vast majority of goals.

Fernandinho and De Bruyne might have caught the eye with long-range strikes in recent weeks, but 25 of City’s 29 goals have come from within 18 yards.

Napoli have scored three from outside the box and two headers to City’s four, while their tally is bolstered by four penalties to City’s one.

“Hopefully the spectators in the Etihad and the people who decide to watch us on TV can enjoy it,” Guardiola said at his pre-match news conference.

Irrespective of the result, he is unlikely to be disappointed in this regard due to the healthy numbers he and former banker Sarri have managed to rack up.

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Roma 0 Napoli 1: Landmark Insigne goal maintains Partenopei´s flawless start to season

A first-half Lorenzo Insigne goal maintained Napoli’s 100 per cent start to the season as a 1-0 win over Roma at the Stadio Olimpico extended their lead at the Serie A summit to five points.

Maurizio Sarri’s side dominated from the outset and took full advantage of Juventus’ 2-1 defeat to Lazio earlier in the day.

There was a touch of good fortune about the diminutive Insigne’s strike – the 100th goal of his career – after 20 minutes as the ball was deflected invitingly into his path by a Roma defender, and the Italy international coolly slotted past Alisson into the bottom-left corner.

Dries Mertens, who has already scored seven times this season, had two excellent chances to add to his tally in the first half but was thwarted by Alisson on both occasions.

The Belgian then had another glorious chance 10 minutes into the second period after he had picked the pocket of Kostas Manolas, but he skewed his effort wide of the far post.

Napoli goalkeeper Pepe Reina was a virtual spectator but produced a superb save with 20 minutes remaining to tip substitute Federico Fazio’s nodded effort onto the post, while Edin Dzeko clipped the crossbar with a late header as the hosts tried in vain to grab an equaliser.

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Napoli set to conquer the Romans at the Stadio Olimpico

In one of the most eye-catching games of the Italian football weekend, Roma host Napoli at the Stadio Olimpico on Saturday night.

Roma have enjoyed a decent start to their Serie A campaign and the men from the Italian capital are currently fifth in the table, just six points behind leaders and opponents Napoli having played a game fewer than their rivals.

The Giallorossi have been in good form of late, having won their last five games in all competitions, while also scoring two or more goals in each of the wins.

The home side have been in good form on home soil of late, winning four of their last five league games at the Stadio Olimpico. Eusebio Di Francesco’s team have also managed to score at least three goals in all four of their recent home wins.

Napoli have begun the Serie A campaign in sparkling form, winning all seven of their games in Serie A so far this season. In fact, they are now undefeated in 19 Serie A outings, recording an impressive 17 victories.

Last time out, Maurizio Sarri’s team recorded a 3-0 win over Cagliari. The visitors have now scored three or more goals in their last five competitive games, so the men from Naples are on fire going forward.

Napoli’s potent attack has contributed to their being over 2.5 goals scored in their last 11 outings in the Italian top-flight.

The visitor’s away record is formidable, as they are 17 games undefeated on their travels in Serie A while picking up 15 wins in the process. They have also scored at least three goals in each of their last six away games in Serie A.

This clash could really go either way, as both sides head into this game in good form. However, Forebet predicts that Napoli will keep up their hundred percent record in Serie A and record an important an important away win in Rome.