Italian Serie A

Juventus v Napoli – Saturday 20th October – Juventus Stadium (18:00)

Juventus v Napoli

This weekend sees a top of the table clash in the Serie A between Juventus and Napoli. Defending champions Juventus have continued their impressive unbeaten form from last season while Napoli have matched them stride for stride this campaign. Juventus sit top of the log above Napoli only by two goals difference with both teams accumulating 19 points out of a possible 21. The pair have won six of their seven matches.

Juventus stretched their Serie A unbeaten streak to an amazing 46 games with a 2-1 victory at Siena in their last match. Claudio Marchisio scored what proved to be the winner for the league leaders six minutes from time after Andrea Pirlo’s goal from a trademark free kick was cancelled out. Juve will now return to their home ground where they have been impeccable this season, winning all 3 games, scoring eight goals while conceding just one. Manager Antonio Conte has recently had his ban for not reporting match-fixing reduced from 10 months to four, handing Juventus a major boost for the rest of the season. This means that Conte will be able to resume his duties from caretaker coach Massimo Carrera at the beginning of November. Significant experience will have been gained by Carrera, which can continue to be a benefit upon the return of Conte, lessening the burden on the manager when the games arrive thick and fast. During the preseason, it was assumed that Juve would struggle to change the course of matches in the absence of their manager, given that Carrera, without any prior first team experience, would be unable to improvise when necessary. This has been dispelled after several successful changes this season earned Juve points from drawing, or even losing positions. Fabio Quagliarella was introduced at Stamford Bridge in the opening Champions League match with the Bianconeri trailing 2-1. The former Napoli striker scored the equalizer against Chelsea, before striking the bar in the dying stages to leave Juve wondering what might have been. Mirko Vucinic came on as a substitute when Juve were losing away at Genoa, and in the space of 30 minutes, the Montenegrin had scored one goal and assisted two more to seal a crucial victory. Besides Andrea Pirlo, left wing-back Kwadwo Asamoah has been a stand out player for Juve since signing at the beginning of the season. The Ghanaian has provided some assists and a sublime goal of his own. He has given Juve stability down the left flank while offering some great attacking play in the final third.

Napoli will be looking to avenge their 4-2 Supercoppa loss to Juventus in Beijing. Napoli fought hard to stay top of the table with Juventus in their last match overcoming Udinese 2-1 at home. Napoli have strengthened their side to a great extent this season bringing in a lot of experience and cover. There were a few key weaknesses in their side identified last season, and many of which were the fact that they did not have enough strength and depth in their side, and as well as defensive shortcomings. Their most valuable signing was of experienced defender Alessandro Gamberini from Fiorentina. Swiss midfielder Valon Behrami also joined from Fiorentina. If they are to push Juve all the way this season then they will have to improve on their away record. Last season they managed only six wins, seven draws and six losses on the road. They have shown signs of improvement this season scoring four goals and conceding none in their three away outings of which they have won two. Uruguayan Edinson Cavani has been instrumental in leading the assault for the Napoli outfit and is the top scorer in the league with six goals.

Juventus convincingly beat Napoli 3-0 at the Juventus Stadium last season after drawing the first round match 3-3 in Naples. They have shown their steel in big matches and recently thrashed Roma 4-1 at this venue. Home advantage should give Juventus the edge again.


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