Monday, 6 January 2014

Napoli vs Sampdoria Italian Serie A-Preview 6 Jan 2014

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Napoli (11-3-3) start the New Year with a tricky test against an in form side. Unbeaten in four, following back to back losses, Napoli still hold the third place in Serie A. Involved in some high scoring encounters, their matches are rarely boring to watch, but a more ruthless streak may be needed if they are to fulfil the undoubted potential in the team.

Sampdoria (4-6-7) unbeaten in six in all competitions, are out of the relegation zone and looking upwards since the arrival of Mihajlovic as coach. Their recent record is not good in Naples though with four defeats on the last five visits, with no goal scored. Napoli have Zuniga and Mesto(mid) out, while Reina(gk) and Hamsik(mid) still struggling with injuries.

The draw at 4.75 on the 1X2 is worth taking a chance on. Napoli have not been bombproof, and the home win odds make little appeal so short. Sampdoria have really picked up their form, and recent performances suggest  they can get something from this game. The draw is priced higher than it should be, and this offers offers up the best betting tip.

Napoli will be looking to start the New Year with a positive result when they welcome Sampdoria to the Stadio San Paolo in Naples on Monday.

Rafael Benitez's side will head into the contest placed third in Serie A with 36 points from 17 matches, 10 points behind leaders Juventus.

The Azzurri have been rather inconsistent this season that saw them finish 2014 with a disappointing 1-1 draw with Cagliari away from home in the league.

Meanwhile, visiting Sampdoria currently find themselves just four points above the relegation zone in 14th, but under coach Sinisa Mihajlovic the team have showed improvements last month.

The Genoa outfit climbed out of the bottom three in December and will be keen to stage an upset in Naples to start 2014 on a bright note.

The inconsistent Partenopei ended 2014 in third place and will look for improved results during the second half of the season, in order to keep up with top two Juventus and AS Roma. Rafa Benitez notoriously struggled against some of Serie A's lower sides before Christmas.

For each victory against AC Milan, Lazio and Inter Milan, there were dropped points in the games that followed against Sassuolo, Udinese and Cagliari. With Fiorentina hot on their tails, Napoli have a fight to keep hold of the third and final Champions League slot.

Sinisa Mihajlovic has transformed Sampdoria from relegation candidates to potential mid-table candidates since replacing Delio Rossi.  The Serb remains unbeaten after his first six games in charge at the Marassi, picking up nine points from a possible 15. In addition, Samp have progressed in the Coppa Italia thanks to a 4-1 thrashing of Hellas Verona. This game is far from being cut and dried.

When it comes to team selection, Benitez is a master at keeping everyone guessing. However, a couple of injuries have taken some decisions out of his hands. Pepe Reina and Marek Hamsik are still out which means Rafael will keep the goalkeeping gloves.

Juan Zuniga and Giandomenico Mesto remain on the sidelines, while a bruised foot also rules out Swiss midfielder Valon Behrami. That leaves Blerim Dzemaili, Gokhan Inler and Dries Mertens to battle for the midfield positions. Gonzalo Higuain and Jose Callejon have chipped in with just under half of Napoli's 36 domestic goals. Both are expected to lead the line with support from Goran Pandev.

Infrequently seen defender Paolo Cannavaro limped out of a training game and has been left out of the squad. Given his lack of minutes under Benitez, rumours of a potential move to either Inter Milan or Lazio during the January transfer window have started to pick up pace.

Sampdoria can report a near clean bill of health for the trip to Naples. Top scorer Eder's return from injury has given the Blucerchiati a boost. The Brazilian attacker has seven goals to his name so far. Nicola Pozzi will make his 100th appearance for the club if selected.

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