DWWWD – 11/15 points collected
WDWDW – 11/15 points collected
On two separate occasions last week, Napoli were behind Juventus in the standings by 9 points. If the 2-1 Udinese lead held up and Juve were to keep their lead in Crotone, we’d be preparing a 7th straight Bianconeri title.
Instead, in a stunning twist of fate, Napoli came from behind to beat Udinese 4-2, while Crotone, with a bicycle kick, would manage to draw at home against Juventus. This sets up a real-life Scudetto showdown in Torino on Sunday night!
Napoli are currently 4 points out of first with the opportunity of a lifetime to be within one point of the league leaders Juventus with a victory over their arch rival. Talk of Allegri sitting dynamic striker Paolo Dybala has rattled the internet over the last 48 hours, but the real focus for the partenopei is who to start; Arek Milik or Dries Mertens?
Milik is in fine form since his return from injury and proved it by scoring the match winner in his start against Udinese Wednesday night. Mertens, off the bench for struggling captain Marek Hamsik, looked rejuvenated and a natural at the number 10.Could under-fire manager Maurizio Sarri have the nerve to sit Hamsik and slot Mertens in that position? Or will he ignore the freshness and hunger of these “fringe players” and go with his rested old guard Classic XI, after having rotated well vs Udinese?
Napoli’s away form is something that can’t be ignored. Having not lost since 29 October 2016, Sunday’s away side are unbeaten in their last 29 Serie A matches (24W 5D). One catch, however: that October 29 loss was to Juventus.
Juve at home are seemingly unbeatable, with the one exception being a loss to Lazio early in the season. Napoli only has one victory in Torino vs the old lady in the ADL era, a 3-2 come-from-behind victory in the 08-09 season, which saw current captain Marek Hamsik get a brace .
Juve, having missed out on another Champions League dream this season, will be looking for their 7th straight title, and a 4th straight Italian double. Their run in will be difficult thoufh, as they still have to play Inter and Roma in the final stretch this season, who are both fighting for the last 2 Champions League spots. Failure for the Bianconeri to capture all 3 points could spell jeopardy for their title push.
This is the big one we’ve all been waiting for, the main event of the season. So big that Juventus have, for the first time in a long time, opened the away section of the Allianz to Napoli supporters. Albeit it’s only open to those not living in Campania, it’ll be massive to have support in Turin. And as good ol’ JR from WWE would say, “Folks, it don’t get no bigger than this!”
- Napoli are the comeback kings, as they have the most points from a deficit with 28 (W9 D1 L1).
- Napoli lead the league in goals from the corner spot with 12, despite having one of the shortest front three in European football.
- With Lorenzo Tonelli finding the net this mid-week, Napoli took the league lead with 15 different goal scorers in Serie A this season.
Probable line-ups (According to Corriere dello Sport)
Juventus (4-3-3): Buffon; Lichtsteiner, Chiellini, Benatia, Asamoah; Khedira, Pjanic, Matuidi; Douglas Costa, Higuain, Mandzukic
Napoli (4-3-3): Reina; Hysaj, Albiol, Koulibaly, Mario Rui; Allan, Jorginho, Hamsik; Callejon, Mertens, Insigne
By Raffaele Rispo Follow @RaffaNapoli83