Only twice before in the Campanian club’s history have Napoli strung together 10 league wins on the spin, but this year’s crop have equalled that feat following two more successes during the past few days.
Last Saturday, they came from behind to beat potential title rivals Atalanta 2-1 in Bergamo – the fourth time they have taken maximum points in Serie A despite conceding the opening goal – and they were also able to extend their scintillating streak in midweek.
Before now and then, though, Napoli are intent on being crowned Campione d’Inverno (‘winter champions’) by leading the way in Italy at Serie A’s halfway stage – a point delayed this year by the small matter of a winter World Cup.
Continuing their slide down the Serie A standings, Udinese were unable to break a worrying winless streak on Tuesday, when they were held to a 1-1 draw by struggling Spezia.
As Udinese boast the sixth-best away record in the top flight and have conceded goals at a rate of just one per game, they may fancy their chances of halting the Napoli juggernaut – even if the odds are stacked against them.
After making several changes in midweek, Luciano Spalletti is set to name his best available XI on Saturday, for Napoli’s 2022 finale.
Twinkle-toed winger Khvicha Kvaratskhelia has recently been sidelined by a back problem but aims to return against Udinese.
With a tally of eight goals and 10 assists already under his belt in 17 games for the Partenopei, the Georgian could make a cameo from the bench.
However, Amir Rrahmani will not complete his comeback until after the World Cup break, so Juan Jesus or Leo Ostigard will fill in alongside defensive mainstay Kim Min-jae.
Despite injury absences, Victor Osimhen is Serie A’s leading scorer, and the Nigerian should hold off competition from Giovanni Simeone to start up front again.
Udinese, meanwhile, are set to be without Rodrigo Becao, Destiny Udogie and Jean-Victor Makengo for the trip to Naples; Bram Nuytinck is also a doubt after limping off in midweek but should recover in time.
As Sandi Lovric scored the Bianconeri’s goal against Spezia, he will hope to retain his place in midfield, while Isaac Success and top scorer Beto battle it out to partner Gerard Deulofeu up front.
Possible starting lineup:
Data will be available at kick off time or sooner.
Napoli = 55.5%
Draw = 19.3%
Udinese = 25.2%
Napoli 1-1 Udinese
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