Free-scoring Napoli go head to head with Fiorentina in a high-profile match between two of Italy’s biggest clubs who are battling for European places, each one in their own respect.
Napoli searching for automatic Champions League promotion
Sitting one place behind second-placed AS Roma, Napoli are only one point away from grabbing an automatic Champions League promotion and booking their place in the group stage of Europe’s elite club competition. Heading into the penultimate fixture against Fiorentina, Partenopei will give their best to extend the fine form, but will also hope Giallorossi make a slip-up at Chievo which would bring a change on top of the standings. Maurizio Sarri’s men even have mathematical chance of winning Scudetto this year, but it is hard to envisage Juventus missing the chance to re-claim the trophy in the two remaining rounds. Whatever place they end up finishing the Serie A season, Napoli must be given huge credit for all they’ve done this year. Maurizio Sarri has transformed his team into a free-scoring mean machine which plays exciting, attack-oriented football. Eight wins and only two draws in their last ten matches are enough of a proof to support such a claim. Belgian superstar Dries Mertens has been the most outstanding performer for Napoli during this run, having scored nine goals and assisted three more during the ten-match run. Napoli forward will definitely be the one to watch in the forthcoming match as well.
Maurizio Sarri will have no fresh injury worries to think about as Serbian defender Nikola Maksimovic remains the only doubt for the Fiorentina fixture due to his ankle problem.
Fiorentina searching for Europa League place
Forthcoming fixture bears great importance for Viola as well, who are holding out for a European place of their own. Fiorentina currently occupy seventh place in the standings with 59 points to their name, one less than AS Milan in sixth and they have every right to hope for a place in Europa League. In order to achieve their goal, Fiorentina will need to fight inconsistency, which has troubled them throughout the season. One of the most inconsistent sides in the league, Fiorentina won two, drawn two and lost two of their previous six matches without any result coming in succession during that period. Viola will be hoping that morale-boosting 3-2 win over Lazio last time out will provide them with enough of a motivation an energy to go strong against Napoli in what is bound to be a highly entertaining affair. Both Napoli and Fiorentina boast attack-oriented squads that make plenty of shots in a match, although Viola’s edge will somewhat be dull without Borja Valero, an influential Spaniard, who will sit through the match with a ban.
Borja Valero and his creativity in the final third of the pitch will be sorely missed. In addition to the Spaniard, defender Davide Astori is also suspended, whereas Gonzalo Rodriguez returns from his ban. Additionally, Milan Badelj is sidelined with injury.
Injuries to key players can prove to be costly for Fiorentina, who will have plenty of problems finding the adequate tactical replacements for Valero and Badelj in such an important match as this one. Home crowd will provide Napoli with an important advantage and we are prone to back Sarri’s men to win.
Top pick: Half Time Home win 1.70 (7/10) @Ladbrokes
Alternative pick 1: HT/FT Napoli 1.83 (5/6) @Coral
Alternative pick 2: Both teams to score – No 2.50 (6/4) @BetVictor