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Serie A: Napoli’s Champions League Fate is In Their Hands

Napoli vs Verona

The Partnopei have been one of the hottest teams in Serie A and they plan to end their 2020/21 campaign on a high note when they host Hellas Verona at the Diego Maradona Stadium.

Gennaro Gattuso’s side may be deadlocked with AC Milan and Juventus at 76 points as of this writing. But since they have the superior goal difference over the two, all Napoli need is one more victory to fully guarantee their Champions League spot for next season.

As for Hellas Verona, they are desperately looking for inspiration given their horrific stretch of Serie A 2021 results.

The Gialloblu are safe at the 10th spot with 44 points. However, they haven’t been playing like a top-tier side lately so they will be the big underdogs for this particular matchup.

Their current form is in stark contrast to when they hosted Napoli back in January. Ivan Juric’s side came out winners in the said reverse fixture and they should look into the film of the said game to remind themselves of what they’re capable of.

Read on below as SBOTOP examines how these two clubs stack up this weekend.

Talking Points

Napoli continue to step on the gas pedal

Napoli are firing on all cylinders and they aren’t letting up now since they’re so close to achieve their main objective.

The Partenopei’s fight for a top four spot is still at large. However, the good news is that they are in firm control of their destiny.

They are most likely to stick to their attacking style of play since it has worked wonders for them during their three-game winning streak to which they’ve scored a whopping total of 11 goals.

Gennaro Gattuso is delighted to know that his key weapons are clicking at the right time since we’ve seen a ton of goals from the likes of Hirving Lozano, Lorenzo Insigne, Victor Osimhen, and Piotr Zielinski.

And while they’re backline depth is going to be slightly hit with the expected absences of Stanislav Lobotka, Faouzi Ghoulam, and Kalidou Koulibaly, Napoli should have enough firepower to overwhelm Verona.

 

Hellas Verona are down in the dumps

You can’t help but feel for Verona as it has been a miserable time for them. The Gialloblu could’ve moved into the top eight if only they weren’t held back by bad performances this past month.

The Gialloblu have only won once in their last 11 league fixtures. And although a good chunk of it were draws, team manager Ivan Juric is clearly not satisfied.

His anger was in full display doing their loss against Crotone last May 14. During the postgame interview, Juric was so pissed that he called his team “losers” given their inability to make the most out of their opportunities.

Hellas Verona coach Ivan Juric instructs his players during their Serie A match against Inter Milan
Hellas Verona coach Ivan Juric reacts from the stands vs Inter Milan

One of the main reasons as to why they’re struggling is because they have been vulnerable at the back. They’ve already conceded four goals in their last two fixtures alone as their collective inexperience definitely plays a huge role.

There’s more bad news for Gialloblu as their top scorer Antonin Barak, who has seven goals and three assists, will have to sit this game out due to a suspension.

 

History

A big reason why Napoli are the heavy favourites is because they have been utterly dominant in their head-to-heads against Hellas Verona.

In their last 20 encounters, the Partenopei have won 13 times, while the Gialloblu only won thrice along with four draws.

One of those rare wins came in the reverse fixture last January as Hellas Verona put on an attacking masterclass against Napoli at their home pitch.

After a first minute goal by Hirving Lozano, Ivan Juric’s men answered back with three goals care of Federico Dimarco, Antonin Barak, and Mattia Zacagni.

 

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