Napoli v Fiorentina – Stadio San Paolo at 14:00 Live at BT Sport
Napoli head coach Maurizio Sarri apologised to his club’s supporters following last Friday’s titanic tussle with Juventus. Always a high-profile fixture, the most recent meeting felt even more consequential than usual with the Partenopei leading Serie A and unbeaten after 14 games.
Victory would have pushed Napoli seven points clear of the reigning champions with a win and few expected the table-toppers to fail. The hosts had played some of the most attractive football in Europe over the last 18 months and had added more steel to their game this season.
The Partenopei boasted the joint-best defence in Serie A and had demonstrated their maturity by recovering from a deficit to win on four separate occasions this season. The Naples outfit arrived unbeaten in 26 league encounters with fans eagerly-anticipating what was described as a title decider in some quarters.
Napoli’s limited resources
In reality, Napoli just didn’t show up for the occasion. Falling behind inside the first 15 minutes, Sarri’s side monopolised possession thereafter but rarely threatened the Old Lady’s rearguard with many now pointing the blame on their small squad.
Key left-back Faouzi Ghoulam suffered a serious injury in October and the Partenopei have scored only three goals in four matches since he’s been missing. His energy and attacking thrusts down the flanks are irreplaceable and Sarri now has a further issue to contend with.
Star forward Lorenzo Insigne limped out of Friday’s game late in the second-half with a niggling groin injury. He has played in 60 consecutive games for Napoli now and like many, fatigue has started to take its toll.
Insigne is bound to be a huge absentee on Sunday and it’s hard not to believe the home side will miss him. Since 2012/13, Napoli’s win rate has fallen from 68% when he’s started to just 49% without him and that should encourage a young Fiorentina team that’s started to find their feet.
Fiorentina can stay competitive at the Sao Paulo
The visitors swatted Sassuolo aside 3-0 last weekend in Florence and Stefano Pioli’s new-look squad have been quietly improving as the campaign continues. The trio of goalscorers for La Viola – Giovanni Simeon, Jordan Veretout and Federico Chiesa are all making headlines and will fancy the opportunity to impress.
Fiorentina picked up a point from their last away day, a tricky trip to Lazio, and was only narrowly beaten by Juventus back in September. Only once since the opening weekend of the season have Pioli’s posse been beaten by more than a solitary strike so the visitors should be capable of staying competitive here.
Not since before October’s international break have Napoli beaten a one-goal handicap so backing Fiorentina with a +1.5 start on the Asian Handicap line appeals at 1.98 quotes on Sunday.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Fiorentina +1.5 at 1.884