Napoli vs. Roma Serie A Odds, Picks, Predictions (1/29/23)
It seems like Napoli have beaten all of the best teams they’ve come up against this season, en route to building a serious lead atop Serie A- but here comes another test, their first game against a top Serie A opponent they’ve already faced. Yes, they walked away with a 1-0 win in their visit to Roma, but a season sweep can be a tough thing to achieve. This time the visitors, Roma badly need a win or at least a point, as they are in a tightly-contested top four race; they’re just a point behind AC Milan in second, but they sit in fifth, as they have the worst goal differential of the three teams tied for third place. Let’s take a look at the odds and make some picks for what should be an extremely fun Serie A Clash.
Napoli vs. Roma Odds
No surprise here, the league leaders are favored with a line of -145. The draw is set at +265, and Roma are a hefty +380 to walk away with all three points. For goalscoring, the odds are fairly even for a line of 2.5 goals; the over is -105, while the under is -115
Napoli vs. Roma Prediction & Pick
It’s been a charmed season for Napoli thus far, but how will they respond to their first hint of adversity? Since the New Year, they’ve suffered their first Serie A defeat of the season, a 1-0 road loss at the hands of Inter on matchday 16, and a shock exit from the Coppa Italia. The latter was particularly stunning- in their first match of the tournament, the league leaders surrendered an opener, came back to take the lead, allowed an equalizer, and then allowed a 10-man side to stick around through the end of overtime and win a penalty shootout, all against a Cremonese team sitting dead last in the league with zero wins as of now. Obviously, the Neapolitans are still in an excellent position in the league, but losses can snowball. Having already lost out on the domestic cup, can they keep their composure and take advantage of not only their huge lead in Serie A, but also their favorable Champions League draw, or will it be another famous Napoli collapse?
For Roma, things have started to stabilize a bit. They haven’t lost in Serie A since November 6, and in their most recent league games, they’ve salvaged a draw thanks to a stunning comeback against Milan, and then picked up consecutive 2-0 wins. Interestingly enough, their next Coppa Italia matchup is none other than Cremonese so we’ll have to see if they can avoid a different fate than Napoli, but for now, this league match is one that could put them in a very solid position going forward when it comes to the race for the top four spots. In what should come as a surprise to precisely nobody, Jose Mourinho’s side has been characterized by strong defense, and opportunistic attacking, and you never quite know what you’re going to see from them on any given matchday, or even at any point within the match.
I do think there’s a bit of an opportunity for Roma here; Napoli aren’t in the best form they’ve been in throughout this outstanding year, and they don’t really need this win as much as the visitors do. But their home record is fairly ridiculous, and the talent gap is fairly large. With fairly reasonable odds, I’m going to have to go with Napoli -145 as my pick on the moneyline, while I’ll take o2.5 goals at -105 as my pick on the total. Napoli have scored at least 2 goals in each of their past 4 matches, including the debacle against Cremonese, and this game isn’t necessarily screaming “clean sheet” for Luciano Spaletti’s squad.
Roma Attack vs. Napoli Defense
I don’t really see Roma’s midfield being able to compete with Napoli’s enough to hold much possession- they possess 49.7% of the time (10th in Serie A) as compared to Napoli’s staggering figure of 61.3% (best in the league). Thus, it’ll be extremely important for the attackers to work well together and make the most of what opportunities they do have. The enigmatic Paulo Dybala is unquestionably the most talented player in the Roma attack. Even though he’s missed some time, he leads the team with 7 Serie A goals and is just 1 assist off of the team lead with 4. He’s inconsistent at times but at his best, has as much quality as just about anyone in the sport- this was on full display with his recent brace against Fiorentina and a pair of assists against Spezia. He’s put together an excellent season in his first campaign in the Italian capital, playing in all attacking roles from CAM, to striker, to right wing. Tammy Abraham has been the other main attacker for this team, serving mostly as a true striker, although he has not been nearly as productive as Dybala, chipping in about half as many goal contributions as the Argentine. Lorenzo Pelligrini has served mostly in the CAM role when Dybala isn’t, and he leads the team with 5 assists in the league to go along with a pair of goals, both scored from the penalty spot. At its best, the Roma attack can create chances with the best of them, but it’s a group of very much up-and-down players who can evaporate at a moment’s notice, and that is, in part, why they’re just 8th in Serie A with 25 goals.
They’ll be attempting to score on the best defense in Serie A, a distinction Napoli bestowed upon themselves by firing 5 goals past Juventus. Now, the the Bianconeri have allowed 15, compared to Napoli’s 14. It’s a remarkable feat, considering that Napoli lost club legend Kalidou Koulibaly at centre-back and have not missed the slightest beat. Napoli’s back four is comprised of what is a pretty consistent starting group at this point, starting with the Portuguese veteran Mario Rui, who has continued and even elevated the resurgence he began a year ago. The central defense duo of Kim Min-jae and Amir Rrahmani has also been outstanding, as I alluded to, they were tasked with filling Koulibaly’s enormous shoes, and they’ve both been just about up to the job. Lastly, on the right side is team Captain and Italian international Giovanni Di Lorenzo, who is putting up a third consecutive excellent season, and in the net is goalkeeper Alex Meret, who has been just about good enough this season. These names don’t jump off of the page as superstars, but they’re all excellent players who have been at the heart of a special season at Stadio Maradona.
Napoli Attack vs. Roma Defense
Napoli’s attack has been one of the most explosive not just in Italy, where they lead the league with 46 goals scored, but in the whole World. They’ve fired in 5 goals in a match against Juve, 4 against Liverpool, and a staggering 10 in their two UCL matches against Ajax, just to name a handful of their best performances. Suffice it to say that limiting Napoli’s attacking opportunities is probably Roma’s top priority and tallest task in pursuit of winning this match. There’s been a pair of breakout stars, and you probably already know their names, or at least nickname, in one case. First is Victor Osimhen, who is less of a true breakout as this is his fifth consecutive season with double-digit league goals, including three in Serie A, all for Napoli. But in just 14 starts, he’s up to 13 already, just one shy of his career high, and his 3 assists are also one away from a personal best.
With longtime stars Lorenzo Insigne and Dries Mertens out of the picture, the Nigerian international has really been given the chance to shine. The departure of that pair of team legends has also opened up space for newcomer Khvicha Kvaratskhelia, fondly known as Kvaradona, as his role in reigniting the spark in Napoli is reminiscent of a certain former club legend from the 1980s. The young Georgian winger came over from the Russian league and became an immediate sensation, already with 7 goals and assists each in Serie A, also in just 14 starts. However, he is no lock to play against Roma as he’s been dealing with illness of late, and missed the Salernitana clash for that reason. The rest of the winger group, two of whom will most likely start alongside Osimhen against Roma, is comprised of Hirving “Chucky” Lozano, Matteo Politano, and Elif Elmas, all of whom have played limited time in Serie A but still put up exactly 6 goal contributions apiece, one or two of which in each case have been via penalty kicks. I’d imagine that they’d stick to the Elmas-Lozano pairing that worked against Salernitana, but it’s hard to really know with a squad like this- they could trot out any number of players and still have a good chance to be effective.
Napoli can score on anyone but there are no free goals against a classic Mourinho defense, like Roma’s. It’s one of the best groups in Italy, and their total of 16 goals allowed in the league is the fourth-lowest total thus far (just two off of Napoli’s league-best figure of 14). Depending on how you look at it, Roma run either a back three or a back five, with a trio of centre-backs and then two players who exist somewhere in the space between traditional fullback and outside midfielder. Let’s take a look at the former first- the man in the middle is Chris Smalling, the veteran Englishman who is in the midst of a fine defensive season for Roma, in which he has also scored 3 goals. Rounding out the group are Brazilian Roger Ibanez and Gianluca Mancini, both of whom are putting up just about their best seasons yet. Left back is a bit of an enigma, Leonardo Spinnazzola is supposed to be the man there but he’s just about split time with Nicola Zalewski, and even Stephan El Shaarawy has seen some time there. On the other side of the pitch, Zeki Çelik has performed admirably in his first season in Serie A after coming over from Ligue Un. Lastly in the back, goalkeeper Rui Patricio has been a legitimate plus this year, anchoring a defensive group that on their best day, has every ability to slow down Napoli enough to give the rest of the team a chance to bring home the win