The ultimate title decider will take place in Turin when holders Juventus take on current leaders Napoli in what should be one of the most exciting Serie A games in recent history. With both sides without a slip-up in last eight league matches, chances are we will see a cracking encounter on Saturday evening.
The unexpected detour to Serie B appears to have done nothing to destablize Italy’s most famous club as Juventus returned to the elite division stronger and have been the dominant force in Serie A for four years now. And while the current campaign didn’t have the best of starts, the Bianconeri did really well to return to the right track and have been their usual relentless selves once they finally hit the ground running. Juventus took full advantage of the Champions League break to all but secure their place in the Coppa Italia final, while a fourteen-match winning run in the league saw them close the gap behind Napoli to mere two points. And having also kept amazing seven clean sheets in a row, the Bianconeri have every reason to feel optimistic ahead of the high-profile game against the Azzurri, the team they beat in last four home games in Serie A. It is also important to note that Juventus have won last ten home fixtures, conceding just two goals in the process.
Given that Giorgio Chiellini is missing through injury, coach Max Allegri is expected to revert to a 4-3-3 formation, with Juan Manuel Cuadrado set to be drafted in the side.
Sami Khedira is rated doubtful, and Mario Mandzukic, Kwadwo Asamoah and Martin Caceres join Chiellini in the treatment room.
Just like Juventus, Napoli spent some time in Serie B only to return stronger, and they came close to challenging the Bianconeri for the Serie A trophy few years back. However, this is the first season after quite a while when the Azzurri seem capable of going all the way, with the Turin-based outfit the only thing standing between them and the first league title since the Maradona days. The club’s bold decision to replace Rafael Benitez with Maurizio Sarri has yielded excellent results as the talented tactician managed to get the best out of Gonzalo Higuain and Lorenzo Insigne, while building a great unit that now looks like a well oiled machinery. The Coppa Italia defeat to Inter Milan is probably their only major setback this season, but nobody will be concerned by the Cup failure now that sit two points clear at the league summit. The main objective now is to try and avoid defeat in Turin, and while that will be no easy task, it is important to note that the Azzurri have won last four matches on the road, as well as seven of last nine.
The good news is that coach Maurizio Sarri has no fresh injury worries, meaning that January recruit Alberto Grassi is the only unavailable footballer.
Highly rated midfielder Jorginho will be recalled to the side, with Mirko Valdifiori set to lose his place in the starting line-up.
Key Factors to Consider
- Juventus won last ten home games in all competitions
- The Bianconeri are on a 14-match winning run in Serie A
- Napoli have won last four fixtures on the road
- The Azzurri have seven wins in last nine away games (D1 L1)
- Juventus won last four home fixtures vs Napoli in the league
Even though Napoli have been thoroughly impressive this season, the reality is that not even stronger sides have been capable of stopping Juventus when they are on top of their game as that is now the case. And seeing that the Bianconeri have four straight wins over Napoli in Turin when league matches are concerned, we are backing them to continue the trend.
Verdict: Home win
Best Odds: 11/10
Bookmaker: William Hill