It’s looking more and more likely that Napoli are going to finish in second place in Serie A this year. They are well behind Juventus and have no real chance of making up that kind of ground, and they are six points ahead of AC Milan and seven points up on Internazionale. That’s why they play the games though. Napoli will look to hold strong in second place when they host 15th place Udinese this weekend.
Don't miss the Italian Serie A action from the Stadio San Paoli in Napoli, Italy at 1 p.m. ET on Sunday, March 17, 2019. Catch every moment of the match live on ESPN2.
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Udinese looked to be in a bit of danger a month ago, but they have won two of their last three matches to put some distance between themselves and the relegation zone. They nipped Serie B bound Chievo 1-0 thanks to an 85th minute goal from Lukasz Teodorczyk, and they followed that up with a 2-1 win over another team trying to fight off relegation in Bologna. They are now four points clear of the drop and have a game in hand too.
As the season progresses, Napoli are likely to turn their attention more to the Europa League than Serie A if they remain comfortably in second place. The club would like to win a trophy, and they are one of the favorites to do it, especially if they can beat Arsenal in their quarterfinal clash. The Neapolitans were fortunate to salvage a draw against Sassuolo in their last match, and they are 1-3-1 in their last five league games. However, they held Serie A opponents scoreless in five straight matches before a loss to Juventus and the draw to Sassuolo.
There is yet to be a timetable for when Antonin Barak can return to the lineup for Udinese. Bram Nuytinck will be sidelined because of a thigh strain, and Nicholas Opoku has been suspended. Marco D’Alessandro, Valon Behrami, and Stefano Okaka are all listed as questionable, while Samir Santos is doubtful to play because of an ankle issue.
Lorenzo Insigne is set to be out for three weeks, and that’s a big loss for Napoli. He was just named captain in February, and he is one of the longest-tenured members of the team. The Neapolitans are also going to be without Vlad Chiriches and Raul Albiol too, and Amadou Diawara is very unlikely to play.
Player to Watch
Arek Milik has been one of the top performers for Napoli this season. He is the team’s leading goal scorer with 14 goals on the year, and he saved the team’s bacon on the road against Salzburg. Without Insigne in the lineup, Milik and Dries Mertens are the team’s top options, and one of them will need to take care of the scoring here.
Serie A Prop Bet – Napoli Under 2.5 Goals -133
I think there’s a very good chance Napoli aren’t too sharp here. They are coming back from a road test in Austria on Thursday, and they will likely rest some of their players in order to have people healthy for the stretch run. That’s especially the case after the injury to Insigne. Udinese have been relatively solid in defense with 36 goals allowed in 26 matches, and they know how to defend.
Free Soccer Betting Pick
It’s too much for Udinese to ask for a result on the road here, but I think they will keep the score respectable. Udinese played them well and did not deserve to lose 3-0 at home back in October.
Italian Serie A Odds: Napoli 2, Udinese 0
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