A Lazio side that made keen progress under boss Simone Inzaghi last season will take on a new-look Napoli under Carlo Ancelotti this Saturday, with both Italian sides eager to kick off the 2018/19 campaign on a strong footing.
Aside from the hotly-anticipated Juventus debut for Cristiano Ronaldo away at Chievo on Saturday tea-time, this match garnered the most excitement when the Serie A fixtures were first drawn.
Pre-season games have caused headaches for the well-travelled Napoli, their results including a 5-0 demolition by Liverpool, and a 3-1 loss to German side Wolfsburg.
“We ought to be worried, because worry makes us do better next time,” Ancelotti told Sky Italia on August 11.
“I was worried after Liverpool and that allowed us to do better against Wolfsburg. The psychological aspect is important, and today was an ugly performance. On the one hand we did better in tactical terms, but on the other, we were worse off in defence.”
A switch to that 4-2-3-1 formation, from former boss Maurizio Sarri’s rigid 4-3-3, will take some getting used to for Napoli, but even the much more established Lazio team have struggled in friendlies during their preparations for the new campaign.
Their results have included a 2-0 defeat by Arsenal. and a 1-0 loss to Borussia Dortmund, meaning that both sides should look for improvement as they face each other on Saturday night.
The record between these sides speaks for itself, as Lazio have lost five of their six previous encounters with the Partenopei, drawing just once. The Neapolitan outfit fired 19 goals in that sextet of matches, the latter side managing just three goals.
With such dominance over an opponent usually only seen by the likes of Juventus over the smaller teams, it is difficult to see anything other than a win for Napoli here, even with a new man in charge.
Bet365 offer the best odds at 2/1 on this outcome, a standout soccer bet for those who have paid attention to the form guide.
Lazio even outscored league winners Juventus last term, firing in no less than 89 goals, but their defence let them down as they failed to secure a Champions League berth on the final day of the campaign.
Meanwhile, Napoli came in as third highest scorers with 77 strikes overall, meaning that a game between this pair should end with plenty of goals, as they prioritise attacking prowess over defence. Karamba offer 20/29 on over 2.5 goals in this match, 7/4 on over 3.5 and 4/1 on over 4.5, all bets worth considering when taking into account the sides’ tendency for racking up high numbers.
Both home and away fixtures between Lazio and Napoli last season ended in a 5-1 win for Napoli, and this scoreline is price at 69/1 by Karamba - a bet surely worth a punt at these odds. Other good options include: 21/1 on the Partenopei to score four goals or more, and 51/20 on a Napoli win and both teams to score.
The above would be a good choice when considering the amount of goals conceded by Napoli in pre-season, and the fact that the Coach has already declared that he has been forced to rethink the defensive line as a result.
After two years of consecutive ACL injury nightmares, Poland international Arkadiusz Milik is back to full fitness and expected to be deployed as the Napoli number nine.
This was previously the space taken up by Dries Mertens under Sarri, but the experienced boss sees the Belgian in a slightly different role.
“My intention is not to use Mertens as a winger, but rather close to Milik. They combined well and it’s a good attacking option to have.”
Indeed, the former Ajax centre forward is likely to have plenty of service when considering the likes of Mertens, Lorenzo Insigne and Jose Callejon backing him up. After being handed this responsibility, Milik is likely to be raring to go.
He demonstrated his goal scoring ability with five Serie A goals in just 440 minutes of action last season and for this season opener 888Sport offer 21/4 for the Polish striker to score first or last, and 7/4 to find the net anytime, a bet well worth considering in a match unlikely to disappoint.
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