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Serie A | Gameweek 1
Aug 22, 2021 at 7.45pm UK
Stadio Diego Armando Maradona

2 - 0

Insigne (62' pen.), Elmas (73')
Spalletti (47'), Fabian (52')
Osimhen (23')
FT(HT: 0-0)

Fiordilino (12'), Caldara (30'), Heymans (38'), Ebuehi (45+1'), Forte (50'), Ceccaroni (61'), Tessmann (75')

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

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

After a season of feuding and failure to seal a top-four place, Napoli start their 2021-22 campaign on Sunday, at home to promoted Venezia.

While the Partenopei are hoping to fare better under new management, their Venetian visitors return to Serie A following a 19-year absence, having gained promotion through the playoffs last term.

Match preview

Inter Milan manager Luciano Spalletti pictured on May 26, 2019© Reuters

Once the combustible Gennaro Gattuso had reached boiling point midway through last season, there was only one outcome awaiting the Calabrian coach in May, when Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis gave him his marching orders.

Having already left his next appointment at Fiorentina after just 23 days in the job, Gattuso has been succeeded in Napoli by a relatively calmer presence; an old hand in the dugout, Luciano Spalletti.

The former Udinese and Roma coach has overseen nearly 500 Serie A games in a 27-year managerial career, and since 1994 only Francesco Guidolin and Carlo Ancelotti have taken to the touchline more times in the top flight.

Confirmation of Matteo Politano's loan move from Inter being made permanent aside, there has been no other expenditure at Stadio Maradona this summer, after a hefty outlay last year saw Victor Osimhen brought in to lead the attack at considerable cost.

Nonetheless, most of the Azzurri's main men remain in Campania, and Spalletti has already led his new side to six straight pre-season wins - including an impressive 3-0 victory at Bayern Munich and last week's 4-0 mauling of Pescara.

As the 2021-22 campaign gets underway, Napoli can also take further confidence from the fact they have emerged victorious in each of their last four season openers and have also won 26 of their last 29 league meetings against promoted sides.

In fact, looking through the history books, the club is unbeaten in 10 of their 12 Serie A clashes with Venezia; having won their most recent top-flight encounter 4-0 back in 1967 - with the pair last encountering each other down in Serie B nearly two decades ago.

Mattia Caldara in action for Atalanta in the Europa League on February 15, 2018© Reuters

Following three bankruptcies in less than a decade - and several spells spent in Calcio's fourth tier - Venezia are back in the big time this season.

Having finished fifth and then edged through the playoff final against Cittadella - when only Riccardo Bocalon's 93rd-minute goal sealed victory at the iconic Stadio Pier Luigi Penzo - they must now tackle their first three league fixtures away from home.

Paolo Zanetti's side celebrated their historic achievement on a parade of boats through the city's canals and the head coach has since been rewarded with a new contract until 2025.

With a stadium surrounded by a lagoon and holding a modest capacity of 7,400 - comfortably the smallest in the division - his team are certainly set for the role of charming outsiders this year but will have to hope that their ambitious recruitment strategy pays off come next spring. Certainly, a penalty shootout success against Frosinone in the first round of the Coppa Italia last week will help to settle some new faces in.

Incidentally, newly-arrived defender Mattia Caldara - who made his competitive debut in that cup win - has only ever scored more than once in a single game throughout his entire career, with a brace in Naples back in February 2017 boding well for this weekend's trip south.

As they launch their bid for top-flight survival, though, the Arancioneroverdi will not only have to overcome the might of Napoli at the Maradona, but also a record of only one win in their 12 Serie A opening-day games - a 1-0 victory over Inter as long ago as 1940.

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

Venezia form (all competitions):
  • W
  • W
  • D
  • D

Team News

Dries Mertens in action for Napoli on October 2, 2019© Reuters

Ahead of their first competitive match of the season, Napoli have concerns over both record scorer Dries Mertens and full-back Faouzi Ghoulam, who have been training separately this week, while midfielder Diego Demme has been ruled out.

Mexico winger Hirving Lozano and first-choice centre-back Kostas Manolas are set to be available after recovering from injuries, with former Venezia coach Luciano Spalletti expected to field a familiar 4-2-3-1 formation against his old club on Sunday.

Victor Osimhen will lead the line, with support from Matteo Politano and Euro 2020-winner Lorenzo Insigne, as Lozano is unlikely to be risked baring in mind the upcoming clash with Juventus.

The visitors, meanwhile, must integrate a number of new names into the lineup which secured promotion three months ago - with Mattia Caldara, Dor Peretz and Tyrone Ebuehi among the probable starters in Naples.

Venezia will be without goalkeeper Luca Lezzerini through injury though, while Mattia Aramu, Antonio Junior Vacca, Pasquale Mazzocchi and captain Marco Modolo are all sidelined due to suspension.

Up front, Francesco Forte could be joined by loan signing Arnor Sigurdsson and Norwegian winger Dennis Johnsen, but David Okereke is another potential option for coach Paolo Zanetti.

Napoli possible starting lineup:
Meret; Di Lorenzo, Manolas, Koulibaly, Rui; Lobotka, Ruiz; Politano, Zielinski, Insigne; Osimhen

Venezia possible starting lineup:
Maenpaa; Ebuhei, Caldara, Ceccaroni, Schnegg; Crnigoj, Peretz, Heymans; Sigurdsson, Forte, Johnsen

SM words green background

We say: Napoli 3-1 Venezia

When in top gear last term, Napoli were virtually unstoppable in the final third, so with Victor Osimhen now fully fit and firing, they can get off to a winning start on Sunday.

Though Venezia enter the season with wide-eyed ambition, such a testing task first up is likely to prove beyond them - particularly with a long list of absentees and an unfamiliar lineup.

Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at are predicting a home win 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.Home Win:data

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Data Analysis

Our analysis of all available data, including recent performances and player stats up until an hour before kickoff, suggested the most likely outcome of this match was a Napoli win with a probability of 61.22%. A draw had a probability of 21.3% and a win for Venezia had a probability of 17.44%.

The most likely scoreline for a Napoli win was 1-0 with a probability of 10.72%. The next most likely scorelines for that outcome were 2-0 (10.54%) and 2-1 (9.94%). The likeliest drawn scoreline was 1-1 (10.11%), while for a Venezia win it was 0-1 (5.14%). The actual scoreline of 2-0 was predicted with a 10.5% likelihood. Our data analysis correctly predicted that Napoli would win this match.

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