by Zack Lambert
October 16th, 2020
Atalanta at Napoli
Spread: Napoli (0); O/U: 3, 3.5
Moneyline: Atalanta +170, Napoli +140, Draw +275
Time/Location: 9:00 ET, San Paolo Stadium, Napoli, Italy
Atalanta were recently ranked as the most exciting and watchable team in Europe by ESPN and I doubt there’s a soul who would disagree with that notion. The world’s best offensive team in the world will be resuming their season with their toughest match to day: at Napoli. Atalanta have yet to drop a point and their win over Lazio was very impressive, but they have yet to see a defensive unit like Napoli yet.
With minimal injuries to inhibit the team selections, Gasperini will be able to unleash his side. Papu Gómez has four goals already and six other players have two or more goal contributions through three matches. Those numbers are ungodly and there’s a decent chance for them to break their goal mark from last season. The defense isn’t a huge priority but it is getting better and the central defending is getting very scary. This is a team who can win Serie A.
Napoli have technically played only two matches this season but have a loss and point deduction in their column thanks to a debacle with their Juventus match. Players on Napoli contracted Covid-19 and the team followed the country’s guidelines by staying put and not playing their match with Juventus. To punish the team for doing the right thing the Italian FA deducted them a point and ordered the game a 3-0. The loss is protocol but the point deduction is ridiculous and pretty embarrassing while so many more important things are happening.
As for the team, this is a very impressive product. Gennaro Gattuso was forced to shake the lineup around with Victor Osimhen joining the team and things couldn’t look better right now. The team have eight goals scored and none allowed in their two matches against Parma and Genoa and the restructured attack is clearly clicking. Mertens is stellar in the attacking midfield, shifting between a number 10 and a second striker. Osimhen has yet to score but he’s making an impact on defenses regardless. Chucky Lozano is ripping up the left wing and Ruiz and Zielinski are rock solid in the midfield. Kalidou Koulibaly has regained his form at center back and if he can keep it then Napoli will also make a run at the top positions.
Analysis and Pick
This match has a clear winner in my mind and likely in the minds of a lot of people. Atalanta seem to be operating on another level and scoring at will, but Napoli might have the best defense in Serie A and that’s going to cause some issues. The same goes for Napoli’s offense; it’s going to be a problem. It doesn’t really change how I feel about the outcome, but the match is going to be a lot closer than most people think it might be. Atalanta will win a very tight match 3-2 to keep their perfect record.