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11 Mar 2023 / admin

Soccer Italy Serie A 12 March 2023

Napoli vs Atalanta - Match Preview

Napoli may have lost 1-0 to Lazio last Friday in Serie A (SA) but coach Luciano Spalletti “saw hunger, determination and humility from my players” as they maintained a healthy double-digit lead at the top of the table. It’s not yet time to panic, especially having not lost consecutive matches this SA season, but an upcoming Champions League round of the 16-second leg after this clash against Atalanta, who defeated them 3-2 in their last SA home H2H, adds to the intrigue.

That defeat means they risk losing consecutive home league H2Hs for the first time since September 1997 and, worryingly, they have also lost two of their last four competitive matches at the Diego Armando Maradona Stadium (W2). All it could take is a single strike to derail the league leaders, as four of Napoli’s last five SA home defeats have come by a 1-0 scoreline!

Atalanta would pledge anything for that goal as they are on the cusp of failing to score in three successive league games for the first time since October 2018 after firing blanks against Milan (L 2-0) and Udinese (D 0-0). This trip may help them avert that prospect as the visitors have scored in the last nine SA H2Hs, their longest such run against Napoli.

On the results front, Atalanta is losing steam in the top-four race with only two wins from their last seven league games (D2, L3), but manager Gian Piero Gasperini is “satisfied” with where they are. His comments could be masking their indifferent nine-game SA road trip record (W3, D3, L3) that is threatening their Champions League qualification for next season.

📋 Players to watch: Piotr Zielinski has three goal contributions (G2, A1) from his last four SA H2Hs including assisting Napoli’s opener in a 2-1 win in the reverse fixture. Meanwhile, Atalanta’s Rasmus Højlund may fancy a second-half cameo as his last four away SA goals have come after the half-time break.

Hot stat: Atalanta have scored 31% of their league goals between the 46th and 60th minutes in this campaign.

Bologna vs Lazio - Match Preview

Bologna’s recent 1-0 Serie A (SA) defeat to Torino dented their European qualification chances, but they’re still on course for their best campaign since returning to the top flight in 2015/16. They’re four points better off than they were after 25 games last season as they battle with Atalanta, Juventus and Torino, bidding to return to Europe for the first time since reaching the 2002 Intertoto Cup final.

The visit of Lazio is up next, but as the home side on the day has won each of the last seven H2Hs (Bologna: W2, L5), the hosts will hope they can use any sort of advantage they can to get back to winning ways. Doing so would also build on a record of one defeat in four home league fixtures (W2, D1), including most recently their impressive 1-0 win over Inter Milan.

After becoming the first side to beat Napoli in the league since January 4th, Lazio suffered an unexpected 2-1 defeat at home to AZ Alkmaar in the UEFA Europa Conference League in midweek. “We had the wrong attitude,” complained manager Maurizio Sarri after he saw his team concede for the first time in six matches (W4, D1, L1), thereby jeopardising their European campaign.

A potential last-16 exit makes a strong finish to the league season essential, especially if they want to win an intense battle to be ‘best of the rest’ behind runaway leaders Napoli. Sarri, protecting a perfect record against opposite number Thiago Motta (W4), will expect a strong reaction and if he gets it Lazio could break the recent hoodoo for away sides in this H2H, since they themselves won 2-0 here in December 2018.

📋 Players to watchRiccardo Orsolini has scored in three of Bologna’s last five home games, twice between the 75th and 80th minute. Another potential late scorer is Lazio’s Felipe Anderson, whose last two league strikes came after the 70th minute.

Hot streak: None of Lazio’s last six league games produced over 1.5 first-half goals (HT: W2, D3, L1).

Cremonese vs Fiorentina - Match Preview

After fighting back from two goals down, Cremonese fell to a stoppage-time goal in a 3-2 defeat at Sassuolo last matchday to keep them level on points with bottom-placed Sampdoria, albeit they remain a long shot to avoid relegation this season. That was the fifth goal they have conceded beyond the 90th minute in Serie A (SA) this campaign, which remains an area of concern as it has directly contributed to three losses including a 3-2 defeat to Fiorentina in the reverse fixture last August.

There’s an improvement on the scoring front at least with Cremonese scoring six goals across their last three league games, making up 29% of their season tally. Two of those came in their last game at Stadio Giovanni Zini which saw coach Davide Ballardini and his side gain a historic win over Roma to end their 30-game winless streak in the top-flight - the joint-longest of any club in SA history!

Fiorentina travel on a high after a 1-0 UEFA Conference League victory over Sivasspor on Thursday that made it four straight wins. Coach Vincenzo Italiano was critical of his side though for not being “clinical enough”, and with a tricky trip to Turkey ahead, Italiano’s focus could be tested here as a SA top-seven finish (and a possible European place) remains a realistic target as they start this round four points adrift.

There’s more incentive for the visitors who have a chance to post a first-ever top-flight season double over Cremonese and extend their unbeaten SA H2H record (W5, D6). That would need improvement on their indifferent recent five-game away league record (W1, D1, L3), although that lone win came against another relegation contender in the form of Verona on their last trip.

📋 Players to watch: David Okereke has opened Cremonese’s scoring with each of his last five SA goals. Fiorentina’s response could come from Antonín Barák, who scored Fiorentina’s winner on Thursday and who has seen his last two league goals come on the road, both times with their opening strike.

Hot stat: Fiorentina have conceded exactly one first-half goal in six of their last eight SA matches.

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