Atalanta vs Napoli: Serie A Preview & Potential Line-ups
Saturday's Serie A action pits Atalanta and Napoli against each other in a mammoth top-table six-pointer at the Gewiss Stadium.
A mouth-watering clash in Bergamo gives second-placed Atalanta a prime opportunity to haul back a five-point deficit on leaders Napoli ahead of the World Cup break.
Gian Piero Gasperini's men clawed their way back into the win column following a morale-damaging 2-0 home defeat to Lazio by scoring on either side of halftime in last week's 2-0 triumph at Empoli.
Having lost once in the opening 12 Serie A rounds (W8, D3), La Dea have sent a clear message that last season's underwhelming eighth-place finish was just a fluke.
But there is no room for complacency as they harbor a slender three-point lead on fifth-placed Lazio, meaning a fourth top-four finish in five years is not a foregone conclusion.
In the meantime, visiting Napoli succumbed to a 2-0 defeat at Liverpool in midweek Champions League action but still advanced into the competition's knockout stages as Group A winners.
Despite surrendering points for the first time in 2022/23, Luciano Spalletti's high-flyers will relish the impending Serie A return.
Like in 2021/22, the Partenopei have mustered 32 points in the opening 12 league rounds (W10, D2) to seize control of the league summit.
Yet unlike last season, where they lost their grip on the Scudetto race as the campaign progressed, Napoli will be desperate to sustain their title assault this time around.
Atalanta had enjoyed a five-match unbeaten Serie A staart at home (W3, D2) before losing to Lazio, even though they've not been as prolific as they used to be in some previous seasons.
Gasperini's men have netted under 1.5 goals in four of their six home league fixtures this term amid Duvan Zapata's long-term injury, suggesting Napoli's watertight backline could be in for a stroll.
Before jumping the gun, though, you'd need to consider Atalanta have found the back of the net in each of their last eight Serie A meetings with this opposition.
After winning their last four away league games, Napoli could make it five in a row under the same manager in a single campaign for the first time since 2017/18 under Maurizio Sarri.
Spalletti's bid to enter the club's folklore doesn't end here. The Italian manager has steered the Partenopei to eight consecutive Serie A wins and could extend that streak to nine for the first time.
All eyes will be on Victor Osimhen, who has scored in his last four top-flight appearances. Napoli will need their star striker to maintain his free-scoring form in the absence of key forward Khvicha Kvaratskhelia.
Atalanta vs Napoli Potential Line-ups
Atalanta (3-4-1-2): Juan Musso; Rafael Toloi, Merih Demiral, Berat Djimsiti; Hans Hateboer, Mario Pasalic, Teun Koopmeiners, Brandon Soppy; Ederson; Ademola Lookman, Rasmus Hojlund.
Napoli (4-3-3): Alex Meret; Giovanni Di Lorenzo, Kim Min-jae, Juan Jesus, Mario Rui; Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa, Stanislav Lobotka, Piotr Zielinski; Hirving Lozano, Victor Osimhen, Matteo Politano.