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Preview: Napoli vs. Bologna - prediction, team news, lineups

:Headline: Preview: Napoli vs. Bologna - prediction, team news, lineups:
Sports Mole previews Thursday's Serie A clash between Napoli and Bologna, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
Sports Mole

With their flawless Serie A record finally ended at the weekend, leaders Napoli now welcome mid-table Bologna to Stadio Maradona on Thursday.

A goalless draw with southern rivals Roma still kept the Partenopei on top by virtue of goal difference, while their opponents have won just once in their past six games.

Match preview

As they travelled to Stadio Olimpico on Sunday, to meet Roma in the season's first Derby del Sole, Napoli were intent on extending an eight-match winning streak which had taken them two points clear at the summit of the Serie A standings.

Despite Victor Osimhen's best attempts - the former Lille striker took the most shots (four) for Luciano Spalletti's side and was denied by the woodwork twice - an intense encounter finished goalless and the spoils were shared.

Previously in charge of the Giallorossi for several seasons, Spalletti was goaded into sarcastically responding to the Roma fans' taunts and was later sent off by the referee for his reaction to the officials at the final whistle - capping a frustrating night for the Azzurri.

Having narrowly failed to surpass a club record set under Maurizio Sarri in 2017-18 by posting a ninth consecutive league victory, Napoli now return to home soil, where they have gone unbeaten in 15 Serie A fixtures.

Though they may boast two of the continent's finest forwards, in Osimhen and captain Lorenzo Insigne, the Partenopei have based their recent run on solidity at the back, as they have conceded just three league goals this term, at a rate of one every three games.

Recalling victories in six of their last seven home meetings with their next opponents will further bolster Napoli's confidence ahead of the game, before they then make the short trip south to meet rock-bottom Salernitana on Sunday.

Bologna have had little time to recover from their rollercoaster encounter with Napoli's closest challengers Milan on Saturday night, as they prepare to take on their second Serie A big gun in the space of a few days.

The Rossoneri visited Emilia-Romagna following a superb start to their domestic campaign, but threw away a two-goal half-time lead - with Bologna down to 10 men after Adama Soumaoro's early dismissal.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic inadvertently turned in the hosts' first and the Dall'Ara was sent wild with delight when they found an equaliser through Musa Barrow soon after. However, Roberto Soriano's sending-off then reduced Bologna to nine, and Milan went on to steal back the points with two late goals.

A previous 1-1 draw at 10-man Udinese means that Sinisa Mihajlovic's side have picked up just one point from a possible six since returning from the last international break, but still sit comfortably in mid-table.

Their aspirations of beating one of their bogey teams this week, though, will be hampered by the absence of their captain, Soriano. The Italy international will be missing through suspension, and Bologna's win-rate drops significantly without the midfielder in the side (by 20%) - as does their points-per-game ratio (1.3 with him versus 0.8 without).

Given the Rossoblu have lost eight of their last 11 Serie A meetings with Napoli - and conceded at least once in each of their last 16 league matches against the Campanian club - the odds are certainly stacked against Mihajlovic's men on Thursday evening.

Napoli Serie A form:
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • D

Napoli form (all competitions):
  • W
  • L
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • D

Bologna Serie A form:
  • L
  • D
  • L
  • W
  • D
  • L

Team News

Due to their indiscipline against Milan, the Bologna XI will be disrupted by the enforced absences of Adama Soumaoro and Roberto Soriano, who must both serve suspensions.

Therefore, Lorenzo De Silvestri could switch inside from the right flank to cover in the back three, or English defender Luis Binks may be offered a start, having featured for the last half-hour on Saturday.

Sinisa Mihajlovic might also stiffen up his midfield for the tough test Napoli will pose, as Soriano's unavailability in the attacking midfield role would allow Jerdy Schouten to come into a central three should the Rossoblu coach opt for a conventional 3-5-2.

Napoli, meanwhile, have few absences of their own, with only Kostas Manolas, Kevin Malcuit and Adam Ounas set to be sidelined again on Thursday.

It has been suggested that Luciano Spalletti - who must watch from the stands due to suspension - will make a handful of changes amid a frantic period of fixtures at home and abroad, so Diego Demme, Eljif Elmas and Hirving Lozano may be handed starts.

If Spalletti elects to keep Victor Osimhen's legs fresh for the weekend, club record scorer Dries Mertens and burly targetman Andrea Petagna offer alternative options up front.

Napoli possible starting lineup:
Ospina; Di Lorenzo, Rrahmani, Koulibaly, Rui; Anguissa, Ruiz, Elmas; Lozano, Osimhen, Insigne

Bologna possible starting lineup:
Skorupski; De Silvestri, Medel, Theate; Mbaye, Dominguez, Schouten, Svanberg, Hickey; Barrow, Orsolini

We say: Napoli 2-0 Bologna

Albeit down to nine men, Bologna returned to their alarming rate of conceding goals at the weekend, and have leaked more than two per game on average this term.

Napoli's incessant attacking force - while blunted by Roma on Sunday - are set to capitalise on such uncertainty in the visitors' back three, helping the Azzurri extend their unbeaten run in the league.

Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting under 3.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Under 3.5:data

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