EUROPEAN football fanatic Mark O'Haire (@MarkOHaire) heads to Serie A for his latest European NAP selection on Saturday.
Napoli vs Sassuolo | Saturday 25th July 2020, 20:45 | Premier Sports
Atalanta understandably hog the headlines when football fans talk about Serie A’s great entertainers. However, there’s a new kid on the block that might just provide punters with even more exhilarating, end-to-end action in Italy. Step forward, Sassuolo…
The Neroverdi have established themselves as a top-flight club in recent seasons and registered a respectable mid-table finish in 2018/19. The Emilia-Romagna outfit were expected to regress back into the depths of the relegation dogfight this term although Roberto De Zerbi’s attack-minded side continue to punch well above their weight.
With three rounds of Serie A still to play, Sassuolo remarkably find themselves comfortably perched inside the top-half. Only the top five teams in the division have scored more goals than De Zerbi’s troops, with matches (particularly post-lockdown) proving thrilling affairs.
No top-flight team in Italy has seen more goals per-game than Sassuolo’s showdowns following the league’s resumption. Neroverdi encounters are averaging a whopping 4.40 goals across their past 10 encounters, all of which have delivered in the Both Teams To Score column and nine have broken the Over 2.5 Goals barrier.
A further six fixtures surpassed the Over 3.5 Goals line, whilst three matches ended in sensational 3-3 draws. Those 10 tussles have averaged 3.05 Expected Goals (xG), with Sassuolo scoring and competing in contests with Inter, Milan, Juventus, Atalanta and Lazio during that same sample, suggesting they won’t be perturbed by a trip to the San Paolo.
Hosts Napoli have registered a solitary success in four outings, the most recent of which was a surprise 2-1 defeat to Parma, who had previously lost six of their last seven. The high of winning the Coppa Italia is wearing thin and the Partenopei arguably have little left to play for having secured their passage into Europe next season via their domestic cup triumph.
Nevertheless, you would expect Gennaro Gattuso to demand certain standards from the home side here, who are aided by the return from suspension of top goalscorer Arkadiusz Milik, whilst Dries Mertens is closing in on full fitness. With Jose Callejon and Lorenzo Insigne also in tandem, the Naples outfit aren’t short of attacking threats on Saturday.
Matches involving the Partenopei have been enjoyable under Gattuso with Napoli returning to their familiar 4-3-3. Twelve of the team’s past 15 fixtures have seen both sides score, as have six of their seven when welcoming top-half teams to the San Paolo. Meanwhile, seven of their nine outings since lockdown rewarded BTTS and Over 2.5 Goals backers.
That’s the angle I’m keen to get onside. It’s proven profitable in nine of Sassuolo’s past 10, as well as 12 of their 13 meetings with clubs currently above them in the Serie A standings. Even with winger Jeremie Boga struggling to be fit, the Neroverdi possess the talent to cause Napoli problems and goals should therefore flow.
Napoli v Sassuolo – Over 2.5 Goals and Both Teams To Score (9/10 Marathon)