Napoli vs Roma: Serie A Leaders Aim To March On

Written by: Greg Lea
Updated January 25, 2023
5 min read
  • Napoli have been one of the most impressive teams in Europe so far this season
  • Roma are one of several teams involved in the race for the top four in Serie A
  • Attacks could come out on top despite Napoli and Roma’s defensive solidity

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Back Napoli to beat Roma and both teams to score on Sunday. The Serie A leaders are going strong but a clean sheet could be beyond them in this crunch clash.

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Winning the Serie A Title Would Be Truly Monumental for Napoli

In Napoli, the years are marked BD and AD: Before Diego and After Diego. Maradona is by far and away the most iconic player in the club’s history. Both prior to and since his seven-year stay, Napoli never won the Serie A title

The only two occasions on which they were crowned champions of Italy came with Maradona as their talisman.

They have occasionally come close in the 32 years since the Argentine departed. Under Walter Mazzarri in 2012/13, they finished second to Juventus. They were runners-up behind the Bianconeri again in 2015/16, 2017/18 and 2018/19. Even a tally of 91 points in the middle of those three campaigns was not enough for Maurizio Sarri’s side to get over the line.

At the start of 2023, though, Napoli fans are daring to dream. Their side has been nothing short of sensational in the first half of the current campaign. Luciano Spalletti’s charges have taken 50 points from the first 57 available. A 2-0 defeat of Salernitana last weekend saw them open up a 12-point lead over the chasing pack.

No one saw this coming. Napoli bade farewell to several stalwarts over the summer, including Lorenzo Insigne, Dries Mertens and Kalidou Koulibaly. Many supporters questioned the logic of losing so many established players in the same transfer window.

This was supposed to be a season of transition, but Napoli are instead the strong favorites with the best online sportsbooks to win what would be only the third Serie A title in their entire history. Italy is a soccer mad country, but nowhere more so than Napoli. 

Residents of the southern city live and breathe the beautiful game. If Spalletti and his players can get over the line, they will forever be legends in Napoli.

Roma Involved in What Could Be Epic Top-Four Tussle in Serie A

Roma won the inaugural edition of the Europa Conference League last season, as Jose Mourinho became the first manager to have triumphed in all three of the continent’s major competitions (the other two being the Champions League and the Europa League).

That success alone made 2021/22 a success for Roma. They might be from a major European capital and have a passionate fan base behind them, but the Giallorossi do not have a great history of scooping silverware. Their last trophy came in 2008 - and that was ‘only’ the Coppa Italia.

Domestically, a sixth-place finish last term was a little disappointing given Roma’s aspirations to finish in the top four. Mourinho deserved to be cut some slack as it was his debut campaign at the helm, but qualifying for the Champions League was the club’s primary objective this season.

With 19 games played, Roma are on course to realize that ambition - but only just. They have a one-point lead over fifth-placed Atalanta and a two-point cushion above their arch-rivals Lazio in sixth.

AC Milan and Inter are both above Roma in the standings by a narrow margin, so there is plenty to play for at the top end of the division. With Napoli widely expected to win the title, it looks like three of Roma, AC Milan, Inter, Atalanta and Lazio will qualify for the Champions League, and two will miss out.

Then there is Juventus. They too were recently in the mix before being deducted 15 points for transfer irregularities. It is not beyond the realms of possibility that Max Allegri’s men fight their way back into contention. Roma therefore have plenty of work to do.

Napoli Can Take Another Step Closer to the Title With a Win Here

When these two teams met in the reverse fixture at the Stadio Olimpico in October, Napoli ran out 1-0 winners. It was a deserved victory for the away team, who restricted Roma to just six shots on goal - none of which were on target. 

That match in the capital was a relatively tight affair, largely because Roma as the home team set the tone. That honor will fall to Napoli on Sunday, and Spalletti’s preference for proactive, attack-minded, front-foot soccer means this should be a more open and entertaining encounter.

Roma are clearly the underdogs as they prepare to take on one of the best teams in Europe, but they should arrive in Naples in a quietly confident mood. Mourinho’s men have not lost any of their last six games in the league, including four post-World Cup 2022. Moreover, Roma have still lost only one away match this term.

But taking on Napoli at the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona is one of the toughest tasks in European soccer right now. Roma might be able to extend their scoring run to seven consecutive matches, but avoiding defeat will be tough. Back a Napoli win and both teams to score.

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How to Watch Napoli vs Roma

  • Teams: Napoli vs Roma
  • Location: Stadio Diego Armando Maradona, Naples, Italy
  • Time: Sunday 29 January 2023, 2:45 PM EDT
  • How to Watch: Paramount+
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Greg Lea

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Greg Lea is a freelance soccer journalist from London. He is the former editor of The Set Pieces, and has contributed to the Guardian, FourFourTwo, and ESPN. A Crystal Palace fan, he is a long-time subscriber to the belief that it's the taking part that counts.
Nationality: American
Education: Bachelor of Arts in Politics
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