Juventus’ quest for an unbeaten Serie A season comes up against one of its biggest challenges this weekend, with Massimiliano Allegri’s side travelling to second-placed Napoli.
Second place Napoli are 13 points behind the Old Lady, and any hopes of catching up to them must start with a win on Sunday. Whilst 13 points seems like an insurmountable challenge, Ancelotti knows that a title race is still possible, and will hope the Partenopei can still keep the pressure on.
On the other hand, Massimiliano Allegri and his Juventus team are currently experiencing a record breaking season, and know a win against Napoli will all but confirm their eighth consecutiveScudetto in a row.
|When Is Kick Off?||Sunday 3 March|
|What Time Is Kick Off?||19:30 (GMT)|
|Where Is It Being Played?||Stadio San Paolo|
|TV Channel/Live Stream?||Premier Sports UK|
Napoli are almost at full strength, missing only Raúl Albiol due to a knee surgery and Amin Younes due to an Achilles irritation.
Juventus are without Juan Cuadrado due to a knee surgery, and Sami Khedira due to a heart condition. There were also doubts over Cristiano Ronaldo due to an ankle injury, however he has resumed training and is likely to start.
|Napoli||Meret; Malcuit, Maksimovic, Koulibaly, Hysaj; Callejon, Ruiz, Allan, Zielinski; Milik, Insigne.|
|Juventus||Szczesny; De Sciglio, Chiellini, Bonucci, Alex Sandro; Matuidi, Pjanic, Bernardeschi; Costa, Dybala, Ronaldo.|
Head to Head Record
In the 33 games since 2006, Napoli have won 12 times, drawn five times and lost 16 times against Juventus, showing that this will be a close game between the two best teams in Italy.
Napoli have only won one in their last six games against Juventus, a memorable late winner from Kalidou Koulibaly last season to keep the title race alive. This season, when Napoli travelled to Turin, they lost 3-1, something which the Neapolitans will be looking to avoid at home again on Sunday.
Juventus’ stunning dominance this season means it will be a tough ask for Ancelotti and his men to win, but a challenge they will certainly live up to.
Juventus are currently experiencing a period of inconsistent form, with a loss to Atlètico Madrid in the Champions League currently hanging over their heads, an early Coppa Italia exit to Atalanta, and a 3-3 draw at home against Parma all fresh in the memory.
Allegri knows that poor form against Napoli is unacceptable, and that the team must bounce back with a victory against Italy’s second best team.
Napoli, on the other hand, have been more consistent and clinical since their Coppa Italia exit to Milan at the end of January, with wins over Parma, Zürich and Sampdoria all helping to keep the team on form. Milik’s strong form has also been a bright spot for the Neapolitans.
Here’s how they fared in their last five games.
|Parma 0-4 Napoli (24/2)||Bologna 0-1 Juventus (24/2)|
|Napoli 2-0 Zürich (21/2)||Atlètico 2-0 Juventus (20/2)|
|Napoli 0-0 Torino (17/2)||Juventus 3-0 Frosinone (15/2)|
|Zürich 1-3 Napoli (14/2)||Sassuolo 0-3 Juventus (10/2)|
|Fiorentina 0-0 Napoli (9/2)||Juventus 3-3 Parma (2/2)|
Despite the period of inconsistent form with the Bianconeri, they have constantly been able to pull off wins when it really matters, especially in big games such as against Lazio or Roma, showing Allegri and the teams determination and will to fight.
Napoli know the importance of this game, and how their title hopes rest on a victory here. Ancelotti is no stranger to big games, but reducing a 13 point gap to ten is going to be a challenge against such a dominant Juventus side, especially one that is mostly fit.
Prediction: Napoli 0-1 Juventus