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Napoli contest Lazio in crucial Coppa Italia semi-final clash

Serie A high-flyers Lazio will travel to the Stadio San Paolo to face Napoli in their Coppa Italia second leg encounter, having secured a 1-1 draw in Rome, where Miroslav Klose’s opener was cancelled out by a second-half Manolo Gabbiadini strike.

Rafel Bentiez’s Little Donkeys, 3/1 with Coral to win to nil, hold home advantage in the latest meeting and are boosted by their crucial away goal at the Stadio Olimpico. However, the hosts have endured a torrid spell in recent weeks, having gone four games in all competitions without a single victory.

The visitors will take confidence from their opponents’ lacklustre form of late and their own recent rampant run, after securing an eight-match unbeaten streak which includes four consecutive Serie A victories. Stefano Pioli’s third-placed Italian top-flight outfit are 2/1 to secure a victory in 90 minutes, as they boast a superior league position, after climbing three places and eight points ahead of Benitez’s men.

However, the hosts hold an encouraging head-to-head record with their rivals, having won four of the previous five meetings in all competitions and have not been beaten since April 2012.

Napoli are expected to slot Slovakian club captain Marek Hamsik back into the team, after the talismanic playmaker was rested in the recent defeat to Roma, while injured midfielders Walter Gargano and Gokhan Inler remain doubts. The away team have no fresh injury concerns of their own, and are missing only Filip Djordjevic because of a troublesome knock.

NAPLES, ITALY - DECEMBER 11 : Marek Hamsik of Napoli celebrates after scoring their second goal during the UEFA Europa League football match between SSC Napoli and SK Slovan Bratislava at the San Paolo Stadium on December 11, 2014 in Naples, Italy. (Photo by Francesco Pecoraro/Getty Images)

Benitez will hope his in-form frontman Gonzalo Higuain can continue his sensational record against Lazio, with the astute Argentine attacker having netted an incredible six goals in his last three Serie A outings against their opposition.

The former Real Madrid marksman is a 6/1 chance to bag a brace or more in 90 minutes, with the striker having struck the winner in a narrow 1-0 triumph earlier this term, and also hit a hat-trick in this fixture last season.

Meanwhile, Lazio have a forward line capable of doing damage to the Napoli defence, with former Germany international finisher Klose enjoying a recent sublime spell in front of goal. The prolific poacher became the all-time World Cup top scorer last summer in Brazil and has followed that up by slotting home five strikes in his last six club outings. He is available at 11/2 to open proceedings at the Stadio San Paolo this time out.

After suffering a domestic decline, the Coppa Italia is now Napoli’s sole hope for silverware success this current campaign, and they are 7/1 to win both halves against Lazio.