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Jan 23, 2022 at 2pm UK
Jesus (17'), Mertens (45+4' pen.), Rrahmani (47'), Insigne (53' pen.)
FT(HT: 2-1)
Bonazzoli (33')
Delli Carri (23'), Obi (30'), Veseli (45+3')
Veseli (51')

Preview: Napoli vs. Salernitana - prediction, team news, lineups

:Headline: Preview: Napoli vs. Salernitana - prediction, team news, lineups:
Sports Mole previews Sunday's Serie A clash between Napoli and Salernitana, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
Sports Mole

As they attempt to keep pace with the Milan clubs in the Scudetto race, Napoli host struggling neighbours Salernitana on Sunday afternoon.

The Campanian counterparts meet at Stadio Maradona with the hosts having picked up two wins and a draw since Serie A resumed, and their visitors seeking just a fourth league win of their comeback campaign.

Match preview

After an awful, injury-afflicted run in which they recorded just two wins from nine top-flight games, third-placed Napoli continued to inch towards a revival following three points secured against Bologna on Monday, thanks to Hirving Lozano's brace.

His goals either side of the break ensured the Mexican winger registered his third Serie A double in Azzurri colours, but as one of many affected by either injury, illness or both this term, his previous two league goals had taken a total of 21 appearances.

Record signing Victor Osimhen also brightened the picture for head coach Luciano Spalletti, as the Nigerian striker returned in their 2-0 win, having last featured for the Partenopei in November, when he suffered a broken cheekbone against Inter.

The recent setback of a Coppa Italia exit at the hands of Fiorentina - when they went down to nine men and capitulated 5-2 on Neapolitan soil - is a reminder of Napoli's increased fragility in recent weeks, but they remain strong favourites to emerge with maximum points from the second of three favourable fixtures this weekend.

Having seen off Bologna, and with Venezia next on the horizon, Spalletti's side welcome a lowly local rival to the Maradona, having won the reverse fixture earlier this season.

Set to face the league's weakest attack, Napoli have conceded the fewest goals in Serie A this season (15), while Salernitana have shipped the most. Furthermore, the Azzurri have kept the most clean sheets so far (12) - fewer only than Manchester City throughout the top five European leagues.

Following a brief ray of light when they celebrated their takeover with an unlikely win over Verona to belatedly start 2022, Salernitana returned to more familiar form last time out, as they succumbed to a 3-0 home defeat against Lazio.

Two goals behind to a quickfire Ciro Immobile brace after just 10 minutes at Stadio Arechi, the Granata were merely playing for pride from that point on, ultimately slipping to a 15th league defeat of the season.

Since their long-awaited return to Serie A in the summer, Salernitana have largely followed in the footsteps of their southern counterparts Crotone, who were relegated after a single season last spring, having leaked goals left, right and centre.

Indeed, the last club to concede as many at this stage but go on to avoid the drop was Bari, back in 1938, so Stefano Colantuono's side are certainly up against precedent for the rest of the campaign.

Seven points from safety - though that will depend on various appeals due to cancellations for COVID-19 - they have been rooted to the foot of the table for much of the season, and their hopes of at least leapfrogging crisis club Genoa have receded with news of another virus outbreak at the club.

Threatening Sunday's derby, which will be played in front of a limited crowd, several players have been quarantined this week - only adding to Colantuono's problems.

Napoli Serie A form:
  • L
  • W
  • L
  • D
  • W
  • W

Napoli form (all competitions):
  • W
  • L
  • D
  • W
  • L
  • W

Salernitana Serie A form:
  • L
  • L
  • L
  • L
  • W
  • L

Salernitana form (all competitions):
  • L
  • L
  • L
  • L
  • W
  • L

Team News

Though their visitors are set to be heavily affected by illness and isolation protocols, Napoli should have captain Lorenzo Insigne - who recently agreed a deal to join Toronto in the summer - and goalkeeper David Ospina back in action.

Wearing a protective mask to shield his cheek, Victor Osimhen made his return on Monday and can contest the centre-forward role with Dries Mertens, who will aim to strike against a 27th different side in his long Serie A career. Only fellow club legend Marek Hamsik (with 28) has notched versus more.

Meanwhile, Monday's matchwinner Hirving Lozano and Matteo Politano go head-to-head for a place on the wing, and in midfield, Fabian Ruiz should make his 150th Napoli appearance.

Salernitana have been decimated by COVID-19 infections once again, and had nine players unavailable earlier in the week, which is sufficient to request the game's postponement under recently agreed Serie A guidelines.

However, since, two of those players have tested negative and may be able to feature on Sunday, but midfielder Lassana Coulibaly is still with the Mali squad at the Africa Nations Cup.

Centre-back Stefan Strandberg also remains unavailable to Stefano Colantuono due to a hamstring problem, but fellow defender Matteo Ruggeri is back in contention after recovering from a similar issue.

If fit and well, the visitors' attack should be led by Federico Bonazzoli and former Nigeria striker Simy.

Napoli possible starting lineup:
Ospina; Di Lorenzo, Rrahmani, Jesus, Rui; Lobotka, Ruiz; Lozano, Zielinski, Insigne; Osimhen

Salernitana possible starting lineup:
Belec; Delli Carri, Bogdan, Veseli; Kechrida, Schiavone, Di Tacchio, Obi, Ruggeri; Bonazzoli, Simy

We say: Napoli 4-0 Salernitana

There is only one viable outcome from this lopsided derby encounter, as Napoli have several men returning to aid their quest to get back in the title race, and their visitors are rock-bottom and beset with absences.

With competition for places back on the agenda for the Partenopei, the likes of Osimhen, Mertens and Lozano will go all out to establish their credentials before upcoming clashes with Inter and Barcelona - resulting in a torrid afternoon for Serie B-bound Salernitana.

Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting over 2.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Over 2.5:data

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