Napoli vs Atalanta takes place on Saturday at 5pm (UK time).
Luciano Spalletti has the Partenopei daring to dream of ending their three-decade wait for Scudetto glory, with his side currently setting the pace atop the Serie A table. Napoli have won 21 of their 25 games this season and now boast a 15-point buffer on closest challengers Inter Milan with a game in hand.
Hold their nerve, and the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona will be revelling in a first title win since the heady days when their adopted Neapolitan talisman was strutting the hallowed turf.
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Three reasons to watch Napoli online
Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham transfer regret
There have been plenty of standout stars for Napoli this campaign, particularly from an attacking perspective, a notion Jurgen Klopp would certainly attest to given the shellacking his defence was given in the Champions League. But, defensively they have been equally as adept, perhaps even more so.
As things currently stand, Napoli have the best defensive record in Serie A (16 goals conceded), and that near-invincibility at the back has been in no short part thanks to the tenacious and intelligent exploits of Kim Min-jae. The South Korean joined in the summer from Fenerbahce and has instantly shone.
A career trajectory which has seen him pitch up in Campania could have been completely different, though. Now Roma boss Jose Mourinho recently revealed that he tried to sign Kim when he was Tottenham boss, but the makers and shakers in north London refused to pony up the adequate dough for his services.
“I wanted to sign Kim Min-jae when I was at Tottenham. I had some FaceTime calls with him,” Mourinho said.
“Our bid was €5m, [Beijing Guoan] wanted €10m for Kim and for Tottenham, that wasn’t possible at that point. Now look at Kim and his level, he’s a top player.”
Watch the title procession
For some, Napoli’s potential title claim is already a foregone conclusion. Such is the chasmic gap they have created between themselves and the chasing pack that many believe the rest of the season is now but a formality in their eventual Scudetto claim. One of whom is that man Mourinho again.
Ahead of the recent Derby del Sole (which Napoli won 2-1), Mourinho stated: “I hope not to be misinterpreted but congratulations to Napoli on the Scudetto. They’ve won it. It’s theirs.
“Because of the inconsistency of Inter and AC Milan, and because you sense there’s no other team that can go on a six, seven or eight-game winning run, the title is theirs.
“Congratulations to the people of Naples, the players and Luciano [Spalletti], they’ve won the Scudetto and they’re worthy winners.”
‘Kvaradona’ is a sight to behold
One of the rarest traits in a player is the ability to harmonise both style and substance. Khvicha Kvaratskhelia combines the two to devastating effect. A fleet-footed wizard on the flank, Kvara oozes skill and creative class but also knows where the back of the net is, and how to set up his teammates.
It’s a marriage of two attributes that has seen him rack up 19 direct goalscoring contributions in Serie A this season, a figure bettered only by his team-mate Victor Osimhen (22). His 10 goals and nine assists highlight his attacking flexibility and his considerable range, and the Georgian is attracting interest from across Europe.
“It’s only me who represents Kvara. He only gets in touch with me and his father. There are no third parties representing him as written in Spain,” Kvaratskhelia’s agent Mamuka Jugheli said.
“Having said that, yes, there is a lot of interest from other clubs. However, Kvara only thinks about winning the Scudetto and Napoli’s games in the Champions League.”
He could become the first player with at least 10 goals and 10 assists in his first season in one of Europe’s top five leagues since Diego in 2006/07 (13 goals and 13 assists for Werder Bremen).
However, there is no possibility of Kvaratskhelia moving to another Italian team, with Jugheli adding: “He thinks about bringing happiness to the Neapolitans. Kvara loves Naples. He loves being there. He told me that football-wise in Italy, he only sees himself in Napoli.
“He will never play for any other Italian club apart from Napoli. He lives in Naples like he does in his homeland.”
Atalanta team news
Giorgio Scalvini, José Luis Palomino, Hans Hateboer, Davide Zappacosta and Teun Koopmeiners are missing for Atalanta this weekend. Jérémie Boga, who has delivered the most assists (five) in Serie A in 2023, should be part of Gian Piero Gasperini’s starting lineup.
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