Napoli vs Lazio
As the 2019-20 Serie A draws to a conclusion, this clash in Naples provides the perfect opportunity for reflection and a case of ‘what might have been’.
Two sides who have produced Serie A highlights aplenty and who have both secured their places in European competition next season ahead of what is, in many ways, a ‘dead-rubber’.
However, the question persists, what if things had transpired slightly differently.
The obvious first port of call is Lazio who are guaranteed to finish in the top four, regardless of the result on Saturday night, and could even finish in the runners-up spot for the first time since 1999 if results go their way (the year before they last won the title).
Yet you can’t help but think this could be so much more.
The side which won the Coppa Italia last season was, granted,a staggering 31 points behind Juventus last term, so to expect a challenge for the Scudetto was ambitious.
However, when the season was halted in March due to the Covid-19 outbreak, it was Lazio who sat just one point behind the leaders and reigning champions.
Since the restart, of course, their form plummeted as they won just two of their first eight games back – they have since won three successive contests to give themselves a chance of second place.
That the club has scaled the heights without a single euro of President Claudio Lotito’s own money–never signing a player for more than €20million since Lotito’s arrival – makes its triumphs even more impressive, and in Ciro Immobile possess the Serie A Golden Boot winner-elect.
As well as Immobile, Luis Alberto has chipped in with more assists than anyone else in the division and the club is back in the Champions League for the first time in 13 years.
Immobile, who has scored 35 times in Serie A this term, could be joined by veteran Spanish midfielder David Silva next season too so these certainly are exciting times for Lazio, despite recent setbacks.
Napoli, also, have had their moments this season.
The club’s foolish decision to part company with Carlo Ancelotti in December – for failing to follow the owner’s instructions – has backfired and they will be competing in the much less vaunted Europa League next year after four successive seasons in the Champions League.
Although it has been far from a vintage season, Gennaro Gattuso appears to have halted the reverse in fortunes of the crisis-stricken club since succeeding Ancelotti and even guided them to a Coppa Italia success.
While Napoli will finish in seventh spot regardless of the outcome on Saturday night, at least one San Paolo player seems to be keen to stop Lazio grabbing the win they crave.
Dries Mertens has pledged to stop Immobile from beating Gonzalo Higuain’s record of 36 goals in a Serie A season.
The Argentine forward, currently at Juventus, scored 36 times for Napoli in the 2015-16 Serie A season, and Mertens doesn’t want the Aquile ace to knock him off his throne.
Napoli have this week backed their manager by confirming the signing of young Nigerian striker Victor Osimhen from French club Lille.
According to reports, he will become the most expensive African player of all time.
But have they got enough with their current squad to stop Lazio and Immobile?
With the sides in second and third place – Inter Milan and Atalanta – meeting at the same time as Lazio’s game, visiting coach Simone Inzaghi will be hoping that contest ends level so they can win to leapfrog both.
That incentive enough may just give them the edge.
This has been a close encounter in recent seasons with only one goal separating the sides in their last four meetings.
Napoli have actually won three of those.
Last season they completed a league double with home and away 2-1 triumphs in which Immobile netted both Lazio goals (Arkadiusz Milik scored in both games for Napoli too), while earlier this season a Lorenzo Insigne goal knocked the then holders out of the Coppa Italia as Napoli went onto take the crown.
Lazio won the league game earlier this season though thanks to a solitary goal from – yes, you’ve guessed it – Immobile.
That remains Lazio’s only victory over Napoli in their past 10 encounters.
|Napoli vs Lazio||Lazio Asian Handicap -0.50 @ 2.35|
|August 02, 02:45 (GMT+8)|
Yet all things must come to an end and I’m going to lean towards Lazio with the SBOBET Serie A betting odds.
Another 1-0 league win is available with correct score @ 12.00.
|A SHORT EXPLANATION ON HOW OUR () BETS ARE WORTH:|
|= €20 (Highly confident)||= €10 (CONFIDENT)||= €5 (SOMEWHAT CONFIDENT)|
Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.
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