This week’s Seria A action will kick off before the weekend rolls in as Juventus and Napoli will renew their rivalry under the Friday night lights at the Diego Armando Maradona Stadium.
Massimiliano Allegri’s Juventus have shaken off their poor form at the start of the season to climb to the second spot in the standings. But they are still seven points adrift of their upcoming hosts, who will go ten points clear if they can see off the Bianconeri.
Napoli showed signs of rustiness after the World Cup restart.
In their first match back, they faced fellow Scudetto contenders Inter Milan and lost 1-0.
The defeat could have made the title race in Italy wide open. But an away win at Sampdoria last weekend, combined with some favourable results in other fixtures, have relaxed the pressure on Gli Azzurri at the top of the table.
Luciano Spaletti hopes Victor Osimhen and Khvicha Kvaratskhelia, who have 23 Serie A goals between them, will wreak havoc on the Juventus defence.
Napoli are not overly reliant on their formidable attacking duo for their goals, as they have scored 39 Serie A goals in total so far. That means they have scored 16 goals in 17 matches from players other than Osimhen and Kvaratskhelia.
Napoli’s goalscoring fluidity could make the difference at the Diego Armando Maradona stadium tonight.
Napoli fans will also be delighted to learn that their team don’t have any new injuries to worry about.
Any change Luciano Spaletti makes will solely be for tactical reasons. Elif Elmas produced a brilliant display against Sampdoria, so he could keep Piotr Zieliński out of the first XI once again. Mário Rui and Mathías Olivera will fight for the left-back position.
In the first few weeks of the season, many ruled out Juventus’s chances of finishing in the top four. But the Turin outfit have remarkably turned things around and found themselves firmly settled in the Scudetto race.
Juventus did not concede a goal in the Serie A since Brahim Díaz rattled the back of the net for Milan’s second goal against Juventus at San Siro in October. Since that 2-0 defeat, Juve did not drop a single point in the division.
Juventus will make it nine wins in a row if they can win against Napoli. More importantly, they will come within four points of the top spot. So, Massimiliano Allegri should feel tempted to compromise his pragmatic approach and take the game to Napoli in their own backyard.
However, Juventus don’t have their best possible XI available for this potentially Scudetto-deciding clash.
Dušan Vlahović, Paul Pogba, Juan Cuadrado, and Leonardo Bonucci are confirmed absentees.
Mattia De Sciglio and Gleison Bremer are in a race against time to regain match fitness before the trip to Naples.
Juventus might go for a more attacking approach against Napoli to substantially reduce the points gap. And that could allow Napoli’s excellent attacking shape to tip the balance of the tie towards the home team’s favour.
We foresee a 2-1 win for Napoli.
Kickoff Time: January 14, 1:15 AM (IST)
Venue: Stadio Diego Armando Maradona