Table-topping Napoli faces their sternest test of the season this weekend when they travel to the capital for a clash with Roma. These two teams have battled it out for second place in the past few years as Juventus have remained the dominant force in Italian football. Last season Roma got the better of Napoli and finished runners-up, but Napoli are resurgent this season. They have won all seven Serie A matches so far this campaign, scoring goals for fun, and they sit top of the table – two points ahead of Juventus and six ahead of Roma.
Maurizio Sarri’s team are being discussed as genuine title contenders and the odds on them winning Serie A have gone all the way into 11/8 with Bet365, Sky Bet and various others. Juventus are still the favourites, but they have drifted to 11/10 with the likes of William Hill, and the bookmakers are expecting the tightest title race in many seasons. Juventus have been very good, but Napoli have been even better. They have banged in 25 goals in seven games and conceded just five, giving them a goal difference of +20, which is by far the highest in the league.
Napoli have beaten some good teams and the 4-1 victory over Lazio was a real highlight while beating Atalanta 3-1 was also fantastic. But they have not yet faced a team as good as Roma, so this will be a great opportunity to assess how much they have improved and how well prepared they are for a serious title challenge. Napoli are the only Serie A team to benefit from continuity this season as the squad barely changed in the summer. That followed a strong second half of the season that saw Napoli hurtle up the table and finish the campaign as Serie A’s leading scorers.
Meanwhile, all their rivals were spending fortunes on overhauling their squads and those new players all need time to acclimatize and gel into effective teams. Napoli have capitalised on the upheaval among their rivals to steal a march in the title race. AC Milan spent £180 million on a new first team, while Juventus spent £130 million on rebuilding after losing Leonardo Bonucci to Milan. But Roma arguably underwent the biggest transformation as they spent north of £100 million on 12 new players. That followed the departure of last season’s star man, Mo Salah, to Liverpool, while Antonio Rudiger joined Chelsea.
Roma have a good team, but they are not as settled as Napoli. They have a game in hand, so could close the gap to three points, but they have not looked as strong. A low point was losing 3-1 at home to Inter in August, and Napoli can take encouragement from that game as they bid to plunder three points from Rome on Saturday. The betting is tight but the away side are the favourites and that illustrates just how well Napoli have been playing of late. They are 149/100 with Marathon Bet, 7/5 with 10Bet and 13/10 with Bet365 to win away at Roma this weekend. The draw is 11/4 with Black Type, while a Roma win is 2/1 with Bet365.
Many punters are tempted by the 2/1 on Roma and a lot of action is going on the home side, but Napoli have real momentum at present and it is hard to oppose them, such is the sumptuousness of their attacking football. Dries Mertens, Lorenzo Insigne, and co are in fine form and they should give the Roma defence a torrid afternoon. Napoli draw no bet looks a good option here at 81/100 with Marathon Bet and 8/11 with Ladbrokes and Bet365. Juventus are playing Lazio, while the Milan derby takes place on Sunday, so some of their rivals will drop points, and Napoli need to get a result to maintain their momentum, so they look a good bet to do so.