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Feb 6, 2022 at 2pm UK

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

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

As they attempt to keep their new year revival ticking over into a second month, title-chasing Napoli visit struggling Venezia at the iconic Stadio Pier Luigi Penzo on Sunday.

While the visitors' Scudetto pursuit has been aided by a run of three successive Serie A wins, their hosts have continued to sink like a stone towards the bottom three.

Match preview

After having won just twice in nine Serie A games, before the international break Napoli were able to win each of their last three - keeping alive their attempt to match the Milan clubs in the title race.

The Partenopei's last league outing saw them host rock-bottom neighbours Salernitana in a Campania derby, and despite seeing an early advantage equalised before the break, they ultimately cruised to a 4-1 win at Stadio Maradona.

Throughout a troubled spell before December's mid-season interval, an absence-stricken Napoli side still managed to maintain a proud defensive record under head coach Luciano Spalletti, and they have conceded the fewest goals in Serie A this season - just 16 in 23 games.

Having now apparently turned a corner, their only significant setback of late was last month's Coppa Italia exit to Fiorentina - when they went down to nine men and were thrashed 5-2 by the Viola.

Record signing Victor Osimhen may have been back to fitness too late to aid Nigeria's ultimately doomed AFCON quest, following a broken cheekbone sustained in November, but he has recently returned to boost a squad facing a daunting series of fixtures in the coming weeks.

Following their duel on the lagoon this Sunday, Napoli host Scudetto rivals Inter next week, before a two-legged Europa League tie with fallen giants Barcelona and league games against both Lazio and Milan. Therefore, the chance to take three points from an ailing opponent this weekend is an opportunity not to be missed.

Though they belatedly picked up their first point of the year in a 1-1 with fellow promoted side Empoli in mid-January, Venezia headed into the two-week break with a nothing to show from a courageous showing last time out at San Siro.

Only Edin Dzeko's dramatic late winner stole the points for reigning champions Inter, after Thomas Henry had given the Lagunari a surprise lead in Milan - which was all the more galling given the fortitude shown by an improvised lineup stripped of several players and their manager by COVID-19 infections.

While Serie A's youngest coach Paolo Zanetti is now available to return to the touchline, he must hope that a raft of recent signings can integrate quickly, as no team in the top flight has collected fewer points than the Arancioneroverdi since the end of November.

In fact, Venezia have failed to win any of their last nine league games - shipping nearly two-and-a-half goals per game on average in the process. By contrast, in the first 13 matches of their long-awaited return to the Italian elite, they conceded at a more sustainable rate of 1.5 per 90 minutes.

As a result, they have slid closer to the drop zone, sitting just a point above 18th-placed Cagliari, but with a game in hand over some of their relegation rivals.

The Lagunari's last victory in all competitions came against Serie B outfit Ternana in the Coppa Italia - a competition which they have since exited - while they will welcome one of Calcio's big hitters to Veneto having won just two home matches from 11 attempts this term.

Venezia Serie A form:
  • D
  • D
  • L
  • L
  • D
  • L

Venezia form (all competitions):
  • D
  • L
  • L
  • L
  • D
  • L

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

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

Team News

While Napoli's defensive lynchpin Kalidou Koulibaly and on-loan midfielder Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa go head-to-head in the Africa Cup of Nations final, so are unavailable on Sunday, the visitors have no other confirmed absences.

Hirving Lozano faces a fitness test and Axel Tuanzebe is troubled by a back problem, but both could be included in the squad to travel north.

Meanwhile, Victor Osimhen - who will wear a specially-sculpted protective mask over his cheekbone - and Lorenzo Insigne are expected to complete their returns from injury by starting the game, and Adam Ounas should be back on the bench.

With Koulibaly still absent, Juan Jesus will again deputise in the back four, while Stanislav Lobotka is likely to start in central midfield.

Venezia have Antonio Vacca and Sofian Kiyine out of commission for Napoli's visit, but otherwise have a full hand from which to choose, which contrasts with their virus-stricken squad of a fortnight ago.

Paolo Zanetti is apparently weighing up the respective merits of Luca Fiordilino and Ethan Ampadu before deciding who will start in the hosts' midfield three, while Nani should be utilised as one of two wide forwards up front.

After taking part in Nigeria's AFCON campaign, Tyronne Ebuehi is available to start at right-back.

Venezia possible starting lineup:
Romero; Ebuehi, Caldara, Ceccaroni, Haps; Cuisance, Ampadu, Crnigoj; Nani, Okereke, Johnsen

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

We say: Venezia 1-3 Napoli

Napoli (384) and Venezia (201) are the sides to have attempted the most and the fewest shots in Serie A respectively, which tells the tale of how this encounter could play out.

So, with their attacking department back at its full complement, the visitors can seal the double over the Lagunari after also beating them on the opening day of the season.

Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting an away win 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.Away Win:data

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