Nope, we’re not back in Qatar, but Juventus and Napoli are playing each other again. For the second time in two weeks, Juventus and Napoli will face each other, except this time, there’s more at stake than a Supercoppa.
Napoli – DDLWW
Napoli’s form comes in two halves, which seems to be a recurring theme this season. A slow start to the campaign, a loss at Udinese led to a 11 game unbeaten streak. In Napoli’s recent form, two disappointing draws against Empoli and Sampdoria led Neapolitans thinking they were all but out of the Champions League places race. A surprisingly loss at the hands of a dysfunctional Milan side only confirmed this. Oh how quick things change in football, two wins against Parma and Cesena has brought Napoli back within the CL places, as they’re level on points with Lazio.
Juventus – WDDWD
Juventus’ lead at the top of the Serie A table is now just one point, leading most Juventini fuming at one man, Massimiliano Allegri, deja vu, Milan fans? Juventus’ most recent draw was against Inter Milan, a match they dominated before Roberto Mancini took advantage of Juventus’ flaws in the second half. The other two draws came at the hands of Fiorentina, which was a fair result and against Sampdoria, a match Juventus were expected to dominate. These three daws helped Roma catch up to Juventus after they seemed unreachable, it’s not quite squeaky bum time for the Bianconeri, but it’s close.
Napoli (4-2-3-1): Rafael, Koulibaly, Albiol, Britos – Gargano, Lopez – Callejon, De Guzmán, Hamsik – Higuaín.
Juventus (4-3-1-2): Buffon, Lichtsteiner, Bonucci, Chiellini, Evra – Pogba, Pirlo, Marchisio – Vidal – Llorente, Tevez.
Notable absences: Napoli leftback Faouzi Ghoulam is at the African Cup Of Nations with Algeria and will not feature. Kwadwo Asamoah and Andrea Barzagli are still injured for Juventus.
Players to watch:
Napoli – José Callejón
The Spanish winger was once the Capocannoniere. Then he went on a ten game goalless run. He’s still only 2 goals behind Carlos Tevez, that’s how good he was at the start of the season. The Spaniard finally broke his goalless run against Cesena on Tuesday, so I expect that to bring some pressure of the former Real Madrid man. Juventus’ Patrice Evra has become known for his defensive weakness as he’s aged, and expect the Napoli winger to take advantage of this on Sunday.
Juventus – Arturo Vidal
In my Derby D’italia match review, I highlighted the fact Arturo Vidal seemed to kick his butt in gear against Inter Milan, after Juventus management mentioned Vidal is expendable. The Chilean midfielder was awarded MoTM by some after his performance, where he played in a more advanced role in Allegri’s 4-3-1-2, like Kevin Prince Boateng at AC Milan when Allegri was once the Rossoneri coach. Vidal seemed to thrive in this role and it looks like the player whom clubs such Manchester United wanted so badly in the summer.
Writer’s prediction: Juventus 2 – Napoli 1