Monday afternoon (5:30PM UK) in Emilia-Romagna, two scuffling sides from different tiers of the Serie A match up, each hoping to regain form. Napoli’s Champions League spot is suddenly under threat, while Bologna have fallen out of the top twelve and are struggling for results.
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Where to watch Bologna vs Napoli on TV:
- UK: BT Sport
- US: Paramount+
Bologna team news
Though they’re safely situated in mid-table (13th, 7 points ahead of 14th-place Empoli), and still have an genuine chance a the club’s first top-ten Serie A finish in a decade, Bologna have recently seen their form drop off of a cliff, with only a single win and four losses in their last five, with multiple goals conceded in each defeat. Similarly concerning is the fact that the side have lost three of their last four games at home, and that manager Siniša Mihajlović, in 19 career matches against Napoli as a manager, has managed a single victory, and ten defeats – including a 3-0 loss in Napoli in the reverse fixture in late October.
On the plus side for Bologna, the defense is at full strength, midfielders Nicolás Domínguez and Aaron Hickey have just received post-COVID clean bills of health, Riccardo Orsolini has scored in three consecutive Serie A matches, and leading scorer Marko Arnautovic, though not in the best of form in recent weeks, is fully healthy and available.
Unfortunately, Bologna are without a heavy dose of midfield toughness with Gary Medel out injured, and are also without the youthful spark of Emanuel Vignato off of the bench. Additionally, the club’s second-leading scorer (and actual best forward player) Musa Barrow is also absent, as he’s on Africa Cup of Nations duty with Gambia.
Bologna predicted XI: Skorupski, Soumaoro, Bonifazi, Theate, Silvestri, Soriano, Dominguez, Svanberg, Hickey, Arnautovic, Orsolini
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Napoli team news
After an outstanding start to the season, in which they were unbeaten in their first 12 games (with 10 wins) Napoli have hit on some hard times. Beginning with their November 21 loss against inter, Napoli have won just three times in the league, with four losses and two draws. What looked to be Il Partinopei’s best chance at a scudetto since the days of Diego Maradona seem to have fizzled, as they now sit seven points behind leaders Inter and five points behind second place AC Milan, and just one and two points ahead of fourth-place Atalanta and Juventus in fifth.
Adding insult to injury, at midweek Napoli were eliminated from the Coppa Italia by Fiorentina.
As if all of that wasn’t enough, on the injury front, Napoli are without their first-choice goalkeeper, David Ospina, as well as Lorenzo Insigne, Victor Osimhen and Piotr Zielinski, who’ve combined for 14 goals thus far this season, two of which came courtesy of Insigne in the reverse fixture. Meanwhile, midfielders Adam Ounas, André-Frank Zambo Anguissa are away the Africa Cup of Nations, as is star defender Kalidou Koulibaly.
However, even having said all of that, the amount of talent that does remain on this roster is still quite staggering. With the remainder of Serie A’s best defense (a league-best 15 goals allowed and 11 clean sheets), Matteo Politano, Fabian Ruiz and Elif Elmas in the midfield, and Irving Lozano, Dries Mertens and Andrea Petagna in attack, they are still an incredibly formidable foe.
Also, situationally, this game suits the visitors quite well, as Napoli have lost just once away from home, and tend to strike first on the road – in eight of their last ten, and each of their last five. It’s worth noting, however, that those last five games have yielded just two wins, two draws and that lone road loss of the season. However, even with these recent struggles, Napoli remains one of Serie A’s top teams away from home.
Napoli predicted XI: Meret, Rui, Jesus, Rrahmani, Lorenzo, Lobotka, Demme, Elmas, Mertens, Politano, Petagna
Serie A 2021/22 recent form:
- Bologna: LLLWL
- Napoli: LWLDW
Scoreline prediction: Bologna 0-1 Napoli
On the one hand, breaking down this matchup is really quite simple: one of the top ranked teams in Serie A, with an outstanding defense and stellar away form is traveling to a mid-table team in free-fall, which struggles at home. And that home side, Bologna, have allowed multiple goals in four of their last five games, all of which they’ve lost. Similarly, 16 of their last 18 matchups with Napoli have yielded at least three goals.
It is worth taking into account that Napoli are without several significant members of their attack, and two vital pieces of their defense, including their first choice keeper, and have been struggling for form themselves. However, even with all of that being said, Napoli still boast an advantage in terms of talent, particularly in the midfield and in attack (as compared to Bologna’s defense. This shapes up as a game in which Napoli can reasonably aim to add to their league-leading clean sheet tally and come away with a businesslike victory.
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