Susy Campanale’s Serie A column: Napoli ripe for Atalanta upset

Napoli and Atalanta club crests ahead of their Serie A fixture

There are two different divisions already in Serie A after 15 rounds, as the top four have left a chasm behind them, six points separating Atalanta in fourth from Roma in fifth. It’s still early days, of course, but as we approach the Christmas break, the top teams are starting to feel the pinch of multiple tournaments. That means injuries and team selection will inevitably affect the way we view the upcoming fixtures.

Atalanta upset in Naples

Napoli are top of the table, but they fumbled a 2-0 lead to Sassuolo and were lucky not to lose. It’s no coincidence they conceded after Kalidou Koulibaly went off in that game and he’ll be out until the New Year with a thigh strain, leaving a huge gap in the heart of their defence.

Considering Victor Osimhen is out for three months too, with Lorenzo Insigne and Fabian Ruiz in doubt for Saturday’s showdown with Atalanta, it points towards a potential upset at the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona. Gian Piero Gasperini was able to rotate his squad midweek and still crush Venezia, so after the 1-0 win away to Juventus, I wouldn’t be against tipping another scalp for La Dea, who seem to have more strength in depth than Napoli.

Roma ruing Dzeko exit

The other big game of Saturday is also going to be dictated largely by availability. Jose Mourinho raged at the referee for yellow cards that mean Tammy Abraham and Rick Karsdorp are suspended for Roma, joined in the stands by Stephan El Shaarawy and Lorenzo Pellegrini.

Even teenage striking sensation Felix Afena-Gyan is unavailable after testing positive for COVID-19, and Eldor Shomurodov and Henrikh Mkhitaryan aren’t nearly as effective upfront. Inter have found their form under Simone Inzaghi and Edin Dzeko will be fired up against his former club, who are sorely missing the Bosnian now. Again, an away victory in this fixture is well worth looking at.

Clean sheet for Juventus?

If Juventus have struggled to keep clean sheets this season, then Genoa at home may well be the perfect opportunity for Wojciech Szczesny to rest.

The Grifone have failed to find the net in any of new coach Andriy Shevchenko’s three games in charge and that is unlikely to change in Turin. No to Both Teams to Score seems sensible.

Travel sick Fiorentina, eye-catching Sassuolo, Lazio under threat

Elsewhere, Fiorentina travel incredibly badly and that makes their trip to Bologna a potential banana skin. Musa Barrow isn’t nearly as effective a centre-forward as Marko Arnautovic, who is injured for three weeks, but his pace can cause real problems for the leaky Viola backline. It wouldn’t be too surprising to see a home win at the Stadio Dall’Ara, especially after beating Roma in the midweek round.

Sassuolo are ones to watch, especially with recent giant-killing sprees against Juventus, Milan and almost Napoli. They visit struggling Spezia, and an away victory looks pretty solid, potentially with quite a few goals in the mix too. Venezia vs. Hellas Verona is a local derby and should be entertaining, two teams not afraid to go at it hammer and tongs, so Overs look good in that fixture.

Meanwhile, Sampdoria can do real damage to the Lazio defence with their counter-attacking capabilities. Maurizio Sarri cannot seem to get this team balanced, conceding eight goals in two games. Luiz Felipe returns from suspension, replaced in the stands by Patric, while Omar Colley sits out a ban for Samp. Overs is the tip, with potential for a home victory.

Serie A Week 16 fixtures

Saturday December 4

Milan vs. Salernitana

Roma vs. Inter

Napoli vs. Atalanta

Sunday December 5

Bologna vs. Fiorentina

Spezia vs. Sassuolo

Venezia vs. Verona

Sampdoria vs. Lazio

Juventus vs. Genoa

Monday December 6

Empoli vs. Udinese

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