WE'VE sealed another stellar signing for the season with Serie A don Paolo Bandini bringing his expertise to the site thanks to our partner Unibet.
Paolo is an Anglo-Italian sportswriter who pens a superb weekly Serie A column for the Guardian and his other credits include ESPN, the BBC and TalkSport as well as making regular appearances on the Football Weekly podcast.
He's a Trevi Fountain of knowledge and we're delighted to have him on board. Here he previews Napoli's trip to Crotone tonight.
Crotone v Napoli (Fri 7.45pm)
Beat Crotone, and Napoli will become Italy’s Campioni d’Inverno – Winter Champions – a title that does not really mean anything at all, but does generate a great deal of newspaper coverage at this time of year.
As Lorenzo Insigne put it in one interview recently, “I’d rather be champion in the spring”, but to sit top of the table at the season’s midway stage would at least be a statement of intent.
Any other result here would be an almighty surprise. Napoli have dropped two points away from home all season, and appear to have emerged from their mini-slump at the start of this month. Insigne was granted an overdue rest and has come back firing. Marek Hamsik has overtaken Diego Maradona as the club’s all-time leading scorer, and is playing like a man with a monkey off his back.
Napoli showed resolve in their last match, too, twice recovering from a goal down to beat Sampdoria. They are expected to make just one change to their line-up, with Elseid Hysaj sliding across to replace the suspended Mario Rui at left-back, and Christian Maggio stepping in on the right of defence.
Crotone’s home record is not awful. They have taken 10 points from their last six games at the Stadio Ezio Scida, beating Fiorentina and drawing with Torino along the way. But they would need to raise their game further to trip up a Napoli side that is starting to get back into a groove, and this without their best centre-back, Arlind Ajeti, who is serving a ban of his own.
- Crotone 0, Napoli 3 (6-1, Unibet)
- Insigne to score first (23-5, Unibet)
- Napoli win to nil (19-25, Unibet)
Anglo-Italian Paolo Bandini writes about Italian football for the Guardian and his tips appear here thanks to our football partner at MrFixitsTips, Unibet. They're making a big splash in the UK betting scene and if you join them today you can claim up to £30 in Welcome Bonuses when you deposit and place your first bet.