If there is one side which can be deemed to outclass Rudi Garcia’s high flying Roma side, it is the team from Naples led by Rafa Benitez. Like Roma, Napoli have been unbeaten in Serie A so far but unlike their counterparts Partenopei have dropped points this season owing to their draw against newly promoted side Sassuolo.
But Roma are now set to face arguably their biggest challenge of the season coming against a side which has done ever so well in the recent past. Napoli have come in leaps and bounds over the years and have earned European spots in each of the last four seasons.
The team has been growing from strength to strength with every passing season and this time around I Ciucciarelli seem more threatening than ever. Summer enforcements have ensured that Napoli improve not only on the attacking front but their defensive capabilities are enhanced as well.
Napoli have Real Madrid to thank for the supply of three of their players who were deemed surplus to requirements at the Bernabeu but have contributed heavily to Napoli’s success so far. The trio of Raúl Albiol, José María Callejón and Gonzalo Higuaín culminated a total of 51 million pounds but the latter two have contributed to seven of Napoli’s 18 goals in the league so far.
Apart from the summer arrivals, Napoli’s quintet of Marek Hamsik, Lorenzo Insigne, Gokhan Inler and Blerim Dezemaili have been excellent so far. The aforementioned players have helped Napoli maintain an impressive 57% possession and a league best of 87% passing accuracy. Benitez’s men have also managed 16 shots per match with 82 chances created.
All in all Napoli have produced excellent performances as a team and needless to say only an excellent all round performance will ensure that Rudi Garcia’s men maintain their winning streak.
Unfortunately for Benitez and Napoli, Roma have been nothing short of excellent and have outclassed every of their opponents with gusto. It will be disrespectful to Lazio and Inter Milan to claim that Roma have not been tested to their limits so far, with Rudi Garcia’s men getting the better of both their rivals this season.
Just before the international break, a clinical display from La Maggica saw them scoring a 3-0 victory over Inter Milan sending a stern message all over Italy that they are definitely the team to beat. Roma have been impervious to high profile departures of Marquinhos, Érik Lamela and Pablo Osvaldo with new signings seamlessly adjusting and senior players stepping up.
Their talismanic captain and ever green forward Francesco Totti despite his growing age has led from the front and has been his team’s best player so far scoring three and assisting six goals.
Roma goalkeeper Morgan De Sanctis who is set to face Napoli for the first time since making his summer move from Naples to Rome, has warned his team of a stern challenge ahead.
“For me this game is going to be different from the rest,'' De Sanctis said.
“I spent four intense years at Napoli.”
“Napoli are much stronger than they were last season and we can expect a difficult game.”
Roma will be without their injured young forward Mattia Destro, while Federico Balzaretti will serve suspension after being sent off in the match against Inter.
Juan Zuniga’s inclusion in Benitez’s squad is a major doubt with the Colombian not full fit as yet, while Christian Maggio who went through a knee injury is unlikely to make a return.Gonzalo Higuain’s return on the other hand will give Napoli a timely boost after missing Napoli’s last two matches.
Watch Roma vs Napoli live on Friday, October 18, 2013:
In UK at 19:45 BST on BT Sport 1
Fans based in Italy can watch the match live on Sky Supercalcio HD.
For complete details of match listings and live scores, visit the AS Roma vs Napoli match page.