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Serie A | Gameweek 18
Dec 29, 2023 at 5.30pm UK
Stadio Diego Armando Maradona

0 - 0

Jesus (66'), Di Lorenzo (67'), Gaetano (80'), Mazzarri (81'), Kvaratskhelia (82')
Mazzarri (83')

Pereira (32'), Palladino (33'), Birindelli (50'), Cittadini (79'), Bondo (82')
Maric (90+5')

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

Sports Mole previews Friday's Serie A clash between Napoli and Monza, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Lurching from crisis to crisis, reigning champions Napoli will try to get their season back on track as they welcome mid-table Monza to Stadio Maradona on Friday evening.

The ailing Scudetto holders exited the Coppa Italia and were then beaten by Roma just before Christmas, and they sit only four places above their visitors in the standings just shy of Serie A's halfway stage.

Match preview

Napoli coach Walter Mazzarri reacts on November 25, 2023© Reuters

Not only did Napoli slip down to seventh due to Saturday's second-half capitulation at Stadio Olimpico, but they also suffered a series of blows that could harm their prospects for the coming days.

Shortly after Matteo Politano was sent off, Roma's Lorenzo Pellegrini opened the scoring; then Victor Osimhen followed Politano down the tunnel after receiving his second yellow card - Romelu Lukaku finally made it 2-0 to the Giallorossi from the penalty spot.

Two members of Napoli's first-choice front three will therefore be banned this weekend, in addition to a growing number of injury absentees - all of which makes life even more difficult for under-fire boss Walter Mazzarri.

Already out of the title race and four points adrift of dark horses Bologna - who sit fourth with two games left in the first half of the season - Mazzarri's men are a shadow of the side that swept to the Scudetto last season under Luciano Spalletti, despite most of the main protagonists staying put in Naples.

Even some public divisions between Osimhen and the club did not prevent the AFCON-bound Nigeria striker from signing a new deal last week, but his substitute appearance in Napoli's last home fixture failed to stop them suffering a humiliating 4-0 Coppa Italia defeat to Frosinone.

Mazzarri became only the 10th manager in Serie A history to oversee 500 matches last weekend but has seen his second spell at the club start in dismal fashion; maverick Partenopei president Aurelio De Laurentiis could soon be tempted to send the veteran coach the same way as Rudi Garcia.

Monza's Matteo Pessina in action on December 1, 2023© Reuters

While the champions are in turmoil, Monza remain a model of consistency and steady progression, as they seek another mid-table finish from their second-ever Serie A season.

After finishing as high as 11th on their debut, Raffaele Palladino's side occupy the same spot in the table after 17 games this time around and are closer to the European places than the drop zone.

Home form has helped the Biancorossi stay out of danger, having kept clean sheets in half of their home fixtures before last week's loss to Fiorentina, but they have won only twice on the road in 2023-24.

Soon after being beaten 3-0 by near neighbours Milan at San Siro, Palladino's men fell to the Viola just before Christmas, as Lucas Beltran's separated the sides last Friday. That was Monza's sixth league loss this season, but all have come against sides who finished in the top eight last term.

Ahead of another clash with one of Calcio's top dogs, they will aim to fare better than on their first Serie A visit to Stadio Maradona: the top-flight new boys were thumped 4-0 in August 2022, before gaining revenge with a 2-0 win on home soil last May.

Napoli Serie A form:

Napoli form (all competitions):

Monza Serie A form:

Team News

Napoli's Natan is pictured with his head bandaged on December 16, 2023© Reuters

Napoli boss Walter Mazzarri must shuffle his pack on Friday evening, when his squad will be shorn of several stars: midfield maestro Stanislav Lobotka broke a rib and Brazilian centre-back Natan sustained a dislocated shoulder against Roma.

Furthermore, Mathias Olivera is still sidelined by a knee injury and Macedonian midfielder Eljif Elmas recently sealed a move to RB Leipzig, while two integral attackers are suspended.

Victor Osimhen serves a one-match ban and Matteo Politano is also ruled out following his reckless tackle on Roma's Nicola Zalewski, so Giovanni Simeone and Giacomo Raspadori could come into the hosts' starting XI.

Meanwhile, Monza's defensive rock must serve a suspension - Pablo Mari picked up another booking against Fiorentina - so Napoli primavera product Armando Izzo could come in to the visitors' back three.

Andrea Carboni and Gianluca Caprari, the latter of whom is still on the long road to recovery from an ACL injury, should be the Biancorossi's only other absentees.

Raffaele Palladino is therefore likely to make few changes at the Maradona, though Lorenzo Colombo and Patrick Ciurria are strong candidates for promotion from the bench.

Napoli possible starting lineup:
Meret; Di Lorenzo, Jesus, Rrahmani, Rui; Anguissa, Cajuste, Zielinski; Raspadori, Simeone, Kvaratskhelia

Monza possible starting lineup:
Di Gregorio; D'Ambrosio, Caldirola, Izzo; Pereira, Gagliardini, Akpa Akpro, Ciurria; Pessina, Colpani; Colombo

SM words green background

We say: Napoli 1-0 Monza

Ending an incredible year with a win, Napoli should prevail in their final fixture - but mainly because of their opponents' shortcomings. While the Partenopei now tend to struggle on home turf, Monza have scored just six goals on the road this term and could come up short at Stadio Maradona.

For data analysis of the most likely results, scorelines and more for this match please click here.

Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at 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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