Betting Odds: Lazio vs. Napoli
- Napoli: +143
- Lazio: +182
- Draw: +251
- Over/Under: 2.75 (Over -108/Under -112)
- Kickoff: Saturday, 2:30 p.m. ET
- Channel: ESPN+
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All eyes will be on reigning champions Juventus and, in particular, new signing Cristiano Ronaldo, in Serie A’s curtain raiser as The Old Lady face Chievo. But there’s little doubt that the game of the weekend is later in the day.
Lazio, which ended the previous season in heartache following defeat in a Champions League shootout with Inter, host 2017-2018 runners-up Napoli.
Napoli put up a real challenge for the title last season but ultimately choked in the dying weeks of the campaign. Juventus ended up lifting the Scudetto for the seventh year in a row.
That may have been Napoli’s best chance at ending Juve’s dynasty, as former manager Maurizio Sarri jumped over to Chelsea this summer.
The man tasked with filling Sarri’s shoes is Carlo Ancelotti, whose appointment was bizarrely confirmed before the announcement of Sarri’s departure.
While no one can question the new manager’s pedigree in terms of honors, there are understandable concerns as to whether the former Bayern Munich boss is the right man to continue the fantastic work of his predecessor with Napoli.
Ancelotti, after all, fell foul of the dressing room in Bavaria following what was a dramatic drop off in the intensity of his coaching compared to that of Pep Guardiola.
While few could attest to being quite so meticulous as Pep, Sarri is another coach known for his high demands in training, so how the players respond to such a drastic change remains to be seen.
There’s little question that, back in his homeland, Ancelotti will have the respect of his players, but getting the same levels of performance out of a side that some felt were the most entertaining to watch in Europe last season will be no easy feat.
It’s a hard start to his tenure at the club too, with a trip to the capital to face a hugely effective attacking team.
Lazio were the leading scorers, ahead of Juventus, in Serie A last season (89 goals), though the 49 they conceded ranked 10th in the league and ultimately saw them miss out on the top four in goal differential.
Lazio can thank Napoli for their misfortune, as the Partenopei won both meetings between the teams 4-1 last season. In fact, Napoli have won each of their last five trips to Rome, but Ancelotti knows that Simone Inzaghi’s side have the tools to hurt them.
Lazio has been able to keep hold of Sergej Milinkovic-Savic to this point, which is a huge positive for Inzaghi. Milinkovic-Savic will help lead an attack that boasts Ciro Immobile, who will be aiming for back-to-back top scorer awards.
The loss, however, of star centre-back Stefan de Vrij will wound a defense that, as mentioned, was far from watertight previously, so the goal-line markets certainly represent the best angle here.
Napoli have scored two or more goals in six of the last seven meetings between the sides, in five of their last six away to Lazio and 14 times across their five-game winning streak in this fixture (2.8 per game).
I’d be confident enough of a repeat, and while that doesn’t necessarily mean that Ancelotti will get off to a winning start against a side of Lazio’s potency, a price of +108 from Bookmaker on Napoli to score over 1.5 goals would be my tip for what should be a fantastic game in the capital.