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Jose Mourinho’s men may have home advantage to call upon, but Napoli are fearless and have started the season superbly.
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During the summer transfer market, many Napoli fans were pessimistic about the season ahead. The club let several stalwarts leave at once, including Kalidou Koulibaly, Faouzi Ghoulam, Dries Mertens, and Lorenzo Insigne, all of whom had been key players for the club over a number of years. Napoli signed replacements, but the supporters anticipated a season of transition.
So did the best online sportsbooks, which had Inter, AC Milan, and Juventus down as the three favorites to win the Serie A title. Roma were next on the list, with Napoli available at a price in excess of +1500. The consensus was that qualification for the Champions League was the best Luciano Spalletti’s side could hope for.
There is no guarantee that Napoli will do anything more than finish in the top four, and even that cannot be taken for granted at this early stage of the campaign. But after 10 rounds of fixtures, the Partenopei are flying high.
A return of 26 points from a possible 30 is more than even Spalletti would have imagined. Napoli will head to the capital this weekend on the back of a six-game winning streak in Serie A. They have been brilliant in the Champions League too, scoring 17 goals in victories over Liverpool, Ajax (twice), and Rangers.
Instead of getting weaker after losing the likes of Koulibaly, Insigne, and Mertens, Napoli have got stronger. That is in part due to fantastic recruitment, with summer signings such as Kim Min-jae, Giovanni Simeone, and Khvicha Kvaratskhelia all off to fantastic starts at the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona.
Spalletti also deserves a great deal of credit. An underrated coach outside of Italy, he has got his new-look team playing superb attacking soccer. Napoli fans are daring to dream of a first Serie A crown since the days of Maradona.
Jose Mourinho is a perfectionist, but he will be reasonably pleased with the way his side have started the season. Roma have not been perfect, and the defeats by Atalanta (1-0 at home) and Udinese (4-0 away) will still grate, but a win this weekend could see the Giallorossi move to within one point of the top spot.
The underlying statistics suggest Roma should be doing even better. They are averaging two expected goals per game, or 20 overall - only Napoli are creating better quality chances. Yet Roma have only scored 13 times, which suggests they have been extremely wasteful in front of goal. More prolific finishing up to now would have put them closer to the league leaders.
Still, Roma continue to show signs of progress. They won the Europa Conference League last term, a fine achievement for a club that arguably does not have the trophy cabinet it should. But a sixth-place finish in Serie A was nothing to write home about.
Like Napoli, Roma are benefiting from some solid summer recruitment, which saw Paulo Dybala, Andrea Belotti, Georginio Wijnaldum, Zeki Celik, Nemanja Matic, and Mady Camara arrive at the Stadio Olimpico.
Roma will also head into this Derby del Sole with plenty of belief after winning three games on the bounce. The standout result was a 2-1 victory over Inter at the San Siro, as goals from Paulo Dybala and Chris Smalling saw off Simone Inzaghi’s side.
The Olimpico might have an athletics track between the stands and the pitch, but it is a stadium that generates a brilliant atmosphere - particularly for big games played under the floodlights like this one. Roma will look to feed off the crowd and use it to their advantage, as they attempt to inflict upon Napoli their first defeat of the campaign.
But the evidence from the season to date suggests that Spalletti’s side will not be fazed by a crowd of over 60,000 fans. Ibrox is famous for its cauldron-like atmosphere, but Napoli beat Rangers 3-0 there. They thrashed Ajax 6-1 at the Johan Cruyff Arena and beat AC Milan 2-1 at the San Siro.
Napoli have even won at the Olimpico already this term, triumphing 2-1 over Lazio at the beginning of September. Their confidence is sky-high after 12 wins in 14 matches across Serie A and the Champions League.
The Partenopei are scoring goals for fun right now, and although Roma kept a clean sheet in a 1-0 victory over Sampdoria on Monday, they will struggle to keep Napoli’s electric attack quiet. We expect this to be an entertaining match, possibly with goals at both ends, but our tip is a straightforward away win.
If you would like to learn more about how to bet the moneyline, which is the strategy we are recommending for Roma vs Napoli, our guide is a good place to start.
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|Teams||Roma vs Napoli|
|Location||Stadio Olimpico, Rome, Italy|
|Time||Sunday, 23 October 2022, 14.45 PM EDT|
|How to watch||Paramount+, fuboTV|
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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. Email: [email protected]More info on Greg Lea
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