Napoli face Sassuolo away in the first game of Serie A’s 23rd round, as the league’s leaders enter this weekend with a solid 15-points gap over the second place.
Since the introduction of the three points, it never happened before that after the first 22 games the gap between the first and the second place was so wide. The previous record belonged to Inter with the Nerazzurri having 11 points over Roma during the 2006/07 season.
The first Scudetto for Napoli since the Maradona’s era is getting closer but tonight clash against Sassuolo it’s trickier than what it looks on the paper.
First, Luciano Spalletti’s side could be distracted by Tuesday’s clash against Eintracht Frankfurt in the first leg of Champions League’s last 16.
Second, Sassuolo is on a hot streak as they haven’t lost in the last four games and their streak includes the monumental 5-2 win at San Siro against Milan, after losing six of the previous seven games.
Results from their last five matches in all competitions:
D W W D L
W W W W L
Due to the Champions League clash, some changes are expected in Napoli’s line-up: Olivera could play on the left, taking Mario Rui’s place while Tottenham loanee Tanguy Ndombele is in competition with Andre Frank Zambo Anguissa and Eljif Elmas could possibly start over Piotr Zielinski.
An injury has ruled out Giacomo Raspadori, the former Sassuolo’s player, who joined Napoli last summer for €35 million with adds on included.
As reported by the club, Raspadori suffered a second-degree strain to the semimembranosus muscle in his left thigh. There is no official timetable for his comeback but it’s highly possibile that he will return only in April after the international break.
For one striker missing, there’s another one ready to make history: with a goal tonight, Victor Osimhen will become the first ever Napoli player to score in seven straight Serie A games. He now shares the record of six straight games with Gonzalo Higuain.
The big question mark for Sassuolo is Domenico Berardi: the winger picked up a minor muscle injury against Udinese last weekend, the exams have excluded harsher damages but coach Alessio Dionisi, during yesterday’s press conference, has claimed they they won’t be taking any risk.
That means that Nedim Bajrami is likely to get his first start as a Sassuolo player while Andrea Pinamonti will probably start from the bench despite being fully fit.
Sassuolo (4-3-1-2): Consigli; Zortea, Erlic, Tressoldi, Rogerio; Frattesi, Maxime Lopez Obiang; Bajrami, Defrel, Laurienté.
Napoli (3-4-2-1): Meret; Di Lorenzo, Rrahmani, Kim, Oliverai; Anguissa, Lobotka, Elmas; Politano, Osimhen, Kvaratskhelia.
Andrea Agostinelli | GIFN