Match Time: 6/29/2020 01:30 Monday(GMT+8)
Napoli return to Serie A action at Stadio San Paolo on Sunday evening with a meeting against a SPAL side running out of time to avoid the drop. Gennaro Gattuso's side are on a high after winning the Coppa Italia and beating Hellas Verona in their first league game back, whereas SPAL were beaten by Cagliari to leave them on the brink of relegation.
Napoli's Coppa Italia triumph, sealed with victory against Juventus in a behind-closed-doors clash at the Stadio Olimpico, ensures that 2019-20 will go down as one to remember for the club no matter what happens between now and the end of the campaign. Lifting the trophy would have felt particularly special for the players, albeit in front of none of their supporters, given their season was in tatters six months ago when they effectively went on strike. Carlo Ancelotti was sacked not long after, Gattuso was appointed and the rest, as they say, is history. A first trophy for Napoli in six years must now be used as a catalyst to push on, and the 2-0 win over Verona in midweek was a good starting point. That made it five away wins in a row for Gli Azzurri in all competitions, keeping a clean sheet in three of those matches. They have struggled at home in recent months, however, losing to Lecce, Fiorentina, Inter Milan, Parma and Bologna in their last seven league matches at Stadio San Paolo. Going further back, Gattuso's side have won just two of their last nine home matches. In the same timeframe, SPAL have managed three victories on their travels.
That has not been enough to lift the Biancazzurri out of the dropzone, however, as they remain seven points from safety with 11 games to go. Following this trip to Napoli, SPAL's next two away matches are against Genoa, Sampdoria and Brescia - three of the four sides directly around them in the table. Relegation is not quite a certainty at this point, then, but Luigi Di Biagio's men could really do with putting some points on the board this weekend, as unlikely as that may be. A top-four finish is surely out of the question for Napoli, so Gattuso will be using the remaining league matches as preparation for his side's Champions League last-16 second leg with Barcelona in early August - that one poised at 1-1 from the first leg. Napoli also boast a pretty impressive record against SPAL, winning 12 in a row against Sunday's opponents prior to being held to a 1-1 draw in October's reverse fixture in Ferrara.
Napoli's Serie A form: WLWWWW
Napoli's form (all competitions): WDWDWW
SPAL's Serie A form: LLLLWL
Gattuso may well opt to rotate his side between matches in an attempt to get his players in peak fitness in time for the Barcelona tie. Alex Meret and Stanislav Lobotka were left out against Verona, but they could come back into the side in place of David Ospina and Diego Demme. Allan is also in contention to start, with the Brazilian having scored two goals and provided one assist in his last three Serie A appearances against SPAL.
As for the visitors, Etrit Berisha is sidelined so Karlo Letica will continue to operate in goal. SPAL have no other injury concerns and are therefore expected to stick with their 4-3-3 formation. Striker Andrea Petagna has scored two goals in against Napoli in Serie A, but he is yet to score at the Stadio San Paolo.
Napoli possible starting lineup: Meret; Lorenzo, Manolas, Maksimovic, Rui; Ruiz, Lobotka, Zielinski; Politano, Mertens, Insigne
SPAL possible starting lineup: Letica; Cionek, Vicari, Bonifazi, Reca; Missiroli, Valdifiori, Dabo; Strefezza, Petagna, Valoti
Napoli VS Spal
Handicap Pick: Napoli -1.5