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Napoli vs Union Berlin Prediction

Napoli vs Union Berlin Odds

Napoli are looking to join Real Madrid at the top of the group when they host Union Berlin after beating them 1-0 in Germany.

They are in an interesting situation at the moment. In fact, every time they had to play a top-level competition in Serie A and the Champions League, they were very poor. They played against AC Milan, Lazio and Fiorentina in Serie A and Real Madrid in the Champions League, and came away with just one point from those four games. They may also be without their world-class striker Victor Osimhen in this match.

Union Berlin are in the worst form of anyone in Europe, losing an unprecedented 13 straight games in all competitions. They need to stop the bleeding in a hurry, especially in the Champions League where they have not picked up a single point in their first three games. They are a defensive team by nature, so playing aggressively and needing points is a bad recipe.

Here is mine Napoli vs Union Berlin Prediction.

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Napoli’s basic metrics so far this season under Rudi Garcia are very similar to what they were under Luciano Spalletti.

The season npxGF in 90 minutes npxGA in 90 minutes npxGD in 90 minutes
2023-24 1.59 0.82 +0.77
2022-23 1.50 0.80 +0.70

data from fbref.com

Rudi Garcia is playing with tactics similar to last season, combining the team in 4-3-3 and building back. What Garcia used during his time at Lyon was an attacking system with the forwards and wingers alternating between positions to help them break the low block. He wants his team to use a combination of passing in the middle of the pitch to beat the opposition and the wingers to provide width to get into 1 v 1 opportunities. All of this fits well with what Spalletti has already done at Napoli.

Although the results have not been convincing and Napoli have not faced a difficult schedule (they have not played Juventus, Roma or Inter), many of the process numbers offensively and defensively are incredibly encouraging.

In their last game against Union Berlin, they really struggled to break down their low block. They were without Victor Osimhen and it showed. Raspadori is not the type of target man who can successfully break down blocks like Union Berlin’s, as Napoli attempted six shots and created 0.2 xG, despite holding 59%.

The question is what will change in the second leg? It looks like Victor Osimhen could be back for this game, which would be a big help, but if he doesn’t play I’m not sure how Napoli will suddenly start creating a lot of chances against a small block.

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Union Berlin performed ridiculously well last season, exceeding their expected metrics by a wide margin. But, the dreaded setback always strikes one way or the other. This time, the in comes in the form of 13 straight losses across all competitions.

The worst thing about Union Berlin is their attacking tactics. They are a 3-5-2 low block team that relies on attacking opportunities and set pieces to score their goals. When they suddenly can’t finish their chances in those two lanes at a ridiculous rate, the goals start to dry up and they have to rely on a defense that allows a ton of shots on goal.

So far in the Bundesliga, the defensive numbers are as good as they were last season. Union Berlin only allows 1.18 npxG per 90 minutes in the league with the most points among the top five European leagues. They are incredibly efficient in their lower block, allowing only a final average of 21.7% conversion rate into the box, which is a very good mark in Germany. In the first game against Napoli, they allowed 33 final thirds, but Napoli entered their box only eight times.

Union Berlin’s problem is that they haven’t been successful in their conversion chances, ranking 17th in the third place in the box conversion rate. They also didn’t perform as well as previous years in set pieces, ranking 12th in xG per set. They only created 0.4 xG on 11 shots in the first leg against Napoli and I’m not sure much will change in the reverse fixture.


Napoli vs Union Berlin

Prediction

Nothing happened in the first game between these two teams that only created a total of 0.60 xG. Even with Osimhen back in Napoli’s line-up, Union Berlin’s low block is not something they see often in Serie A, which was very evident in the first leg.

They are at their best when teams try to press them and can create space for their forwards, but without creating chances from outside their flankers. This space will not go into the box and Union Berlin will dare Napoli to hit them with crosses which they failed to do this season.

Union Berlin have not scored in their last five games in all competitions, but they have also never created more than 1 xG in any of these games. Napoli will put pressure on them if they lose the ball, so they will have to work effectively on their turnovers, which they haven’t been good at this season.

I only have 1.96 goals scored for this game, so I like the undervalue.

Select: Under 2.5 (+107 by bet365)

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