In the most appetising game in the first round of fixtures, we see the highly entertaining duo of Fiorentina and Napoli meet at 8:45pm on Saturday night in Serie A. Fiorentina will want to forget how they finished last season, whilst Napoli will stride to close the gap between themselves and Juventus.

Home Team: Fiorentina

Fiorentina were challenging for a top seven finish which would give them qualification for Europe last season, but their form faltered after Christmas, and they were incredibly close to being relegated. At the end of January, they managed to produce one of the most stunning results by beating Roma 7-1 in the Italian Cup, but then would only go on to win one of their final 15 matches. They ended up in 16th position, and were only 3 points away from the drop. Star striker Federico Chiesa, who also plays for the Italian national team, would expect better from this club, and is tempted to move to Inter Milan before the transfer window closes. If they manage to keep him, in addition to bolstering their squad, they can challenge for at least a top half finish once again. The potential is there.

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Away Team: Napoli

Napoli’s best business in the transfer window so far seems to be the fact that they have managed to keep Kalidou Koulibaly, and not only that, been able to purchase solid Roma defender Konstantinos Manolas to partner him. With a strong defence, manager Carlo Ancelotti will feel more comfortable as he bids to make his team more resolute to adapt his style of play to the club in his second season. The attacking players such as Arkadiusz Milik, Lorenzo Insigne and Dries Mertens remain at the club, and will provide a pacey and prolific line-up which means Napoli have all bases covered. Ultimately, they would like to close the gap on Juventus, but will also hope that they have a squad capable of reaching further in the Champions League, with constant group stage eliminations.

Head to Head

The two matches between the sides last year were surprisingly cagey, with only one goal scored across the 180 minutes. Napoli had won their home game 1-0, with the reverse fixture ending goalless. Napoli do usually have the upper hand in this fixture, and have won five out of the last 10 meetings, with four ending in a draw, and Fiorentina just registering one sole success. That win did come only a couple years ago though, as they won 3-0 at home. Aside from that victory, Fiorentina have to travel back to 2009 for their last win against Napoli at home. Napoli haven’t won on their last four visits, with their last win coming in 2014.

My Predictions and Betting Tips

Fiorentina are outsiders at 15/4, with Napoli backed at 3/4. For the sides to draw, that is priced at 13/5. It’s unbelievably hard to predict matches at the start of their campaign, as you don’t know whether they are fully tuned just yet following their pre-season. Fiorentina did finish last year in terrible form, but the summer break may reignite for some fight there, and they could earn a draw OR win in a double chance at a reasonable 1/1 (EVENS). Despite this, my gut is telling me that Napoli will have just about enough to get a narrow victory here, so I’d back them to win 2-1 at 7/1.

For goal scorers, you can back Dries Mertens and Lorenzo Insigne at 12/1 to both score. I predict a narrow away win, but if you feel Napoli will walk it, you can back them to win both halves at 7/2, have a HT/FT bet of Napoli / Napoli at 13/8 or them to win by a 3-goal margin or more at 9/2.

Finally, we haven’t seen many goals in their meetings lately, so betting on the game to have less than 1.5 goals at 11/4 should be considered.

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