Napoli looking to slow down Juventus as they march on towards their 35th league title


Napoli host Juventus at the San Paolo Stadium on Sunday night hoping to close the 13-point gap the Serie A leaders have on them.

The 13-point gap is huge at this stage in the season considering last season Juventus pipped Napoli to the Scudetto by just four points, finishing on 95 points ahead of Napoli on 91.

I Partemopei, managed by former Juventus manager Carlo Ancelotti have won 17 of their 25 league games this season, drawing five and losing three. They sit a comfortable nine points ahead of third place Inter Milan yet seemed destined for a second consecutive second place finish.

Massimiliano Allegri’s Juventus have been formidable in the league this season.

They remain unbeaten after 25 games, winning 22 and drawing three, meaning they’ve picked up 69 points from an available 75. It’s vital for Juventus and certainly for Allegri that they win the title from this position. They’ve faced criticism from some fans this season following on from their shock 3-0 defeat in the Coppa Italia quarter-final at the hands of Atalanta. The murmurs from the I Bianconeri fans have gotten louder since their 2-0 defeat at Atletico Madrid in the Champions League Round of 16 first leg, Juventus will have to put on a huge performance to overturn that against a resilient Atletico side.

The two Serie A combatants last met in the league back in September where Juventus came out on top winning 3-1. Ancelotti’s side were outclassed on the day and a 58th minute red card for left back Mario Rui meant that the Blues faced a huge uphill struggle.

Napoli go into the game against the Old Lady in good form, unbeaten in their last six games, scoring 12 goals and conceding only one, showing their solidity at the back which has been paramount all season with the side only conceding 18 times in the league.

Juventus returned to winning ways last weekend with a 1-0 away win over Bologna following on from their disappointing 2-0 loss at Atletico. In the league though, they’ve been relentless, marching their way to a potential 35th Italian top division title.

This season, I Bianconeri have scored 53 goals in Serie A, more than any other team and 19 of these have come from their star summer signing, Cristiano Ronaldo.

Juventus’ defence, whilst not getting any younger, remains resolute and extremely difficult to break through with the old guard of Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci dictating from the back. The league leaders have conceded just 15 goals this season and their record away from home is outstanding, winning 11 and drawing one.

Ahead of the game at the San Paolo Stadium, which is sure to be electric with the faithful fans from Naples roaring their team on, manager Ancelotti complimented Juventus but was confident that his side will run them even closer next season:

“The table doesn’t lie, Juventus deserve credit, they are above average and we are very average. We played a few games wrong but have had a good season.

“Napoli can and must be able to compete with Juventus, otherwise, I would not have come here, sooner or later we will win, I’m sure.”

Juventus manager Allegri, who played seven games for Napoli in 1998 had to answer questions on his future in his pre-match press conference:

“My future? I saw the president the other day. We met to talk about how the future will look, without any problem. I am tied to Juventus. We are still in the running for the Scudetto and the Champions League. I am sorry for the Coppa Italia.

He then went on to discuss how important a win on Sunday would be for Juventus’ chances of winning their 35th league title:

“Tomorrow there will be many people at the stadium, it must be a big event. The stadium will push the team to beat us. We know that matches in Naples never end.

“Tomorrow is worth a lot for the Scudetto, with a positive result tomorrow our chances of victory would increase, they want to prove to be better than us. Tomorrow will not be a blocked game. We will have some more space, it will be a different game from the last one.”

Team news

Napoli: Lorenzo Insigne returns after suspension. Raul Albiol (knee) is a long-term absence, however, Ancelotti has the rest of his squad fully fit to pick from.

Juventus: Top goal scorer Ronaldo has passed a fitness test after being out with an ankle injury. Miralem Pjanic is expected to make a start after recovering from an illness. Douglas Costa (muscular injury), and Juan Cuadrado (knee) are doubtful whilst Sami Khedira remains unavailable whilst he receives tests after being diagnosed with an irregular heartbeat.



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