Napoli dropped 3-1 to Atalanta in the second leg on Wednesday, and one draw was removed after a 0-0 leg. Gennaro Gattuso’s Napoli have just two wins in seven games across all competitions, one in the league and one in the cup. Those were against Spezia and Parma, hardly any of the heavy-hitters of Italy. The hosts are actually just three points behind fourth-placed Roma, but there is a game in hand for Gennaro Gattuso’s side.
As experts made their predictions back in pre-season, Napoli were a side predicted to be challenging for the championship, but the locals struggled to live up to expectations. They began in sixth position this week, winning 12 and losing one of their first 20 games, but are just five points shy of the third-placed Juventus, who will suffer a huge blow to their title defense aspirations with a loss here at Stadio Diego Armando Maradona.
In midweek, Juventus celebrated the Coppa Italia Final and with a victory at Napoli they will maintain their title challenge on Saturday night. The goalless stalemate played by Andrea Pirlo’s side at San Siro against Inter Milan during the second leg of the tournament may have ended a streak of six wins in a row in all competitions, but they still did enough to go through to the final overall.
During a tight season packed with victories at the league, cup and Supercoppa divisions, the 2-0 loss to Inter Milan last month proved to be the only setback they have suffered since the beginning of the year – a streak that has enabled them rise to third place in the Serie A standings, only five points behind second-placed Inter, with a game still in hand. The Old Lady has faced some of her toughest matches since the year began, winning games against Milan at the start of Last month and most recently a 2-0 victory over Roma in Turin.
Napoli – The home team has a lot of players on the sidelines, starting off with Kalidou Koulibaily, out with coronavirus. Elseid Hysaj is dealing with an injured left leg from playing during the week while Diego Demme will have to go through check up for his thigh injury. The availability of Osimhen should ultimately mean that he gets to start ahead of Andre Petagna in attacking position and with Fabian Ruiz still unfit to start, Bakayoko comes in with Elmas and Zielinski at the heart of the formation.
Possible Napoli XI: Ospina; Di Lorenzo, Maksimovic, Rrahmani, Rui; Elmas, Bakayoko; Lozano, Zielinski, Insigne; Osimhen
Juventus – Huge relief for Juventus as they have Giorgio Chiellini, Demiral and de Ligt ready to be called up to the starting eleven. However there is some doubt hanging on the availability of Leonardo Bonucci after he was left out of the team that took on Inter during midweek’s Coppa Italia dugout having suffered a muscle strain at the weekend against Roma.
Cristiano Ronaldo will lead the frontline per usual with Alvaro Morata alongside. Bentancur returns from suspension and should be partnered up with Weston McKennie in the midfield. While first choice goalkeeper Szczesny comes back between the sticks after sitting out the Cup match for Gianluigi Buffon.
Possible Juventus XI: Szczęsny; Cuadrado, De Ligt, Chiellini, Danilo; Chiesa, Rabiot, Bentancur, McKennie; Morata, Ronaldo
- The Neopolitans played only one draw in twenty five Serie A league matches, with a record of fifteen wins.
- Juventus are undefeated in eighteen out of twenty Serie A games and have kept a clean sheet in their last three matches.
- While the Bianconeri have scored at least two goals in six out of the last seven, there have also been less than three goals in the last four games.
- Cristiano Ronaldo has scored more than three times the number of goals any of his team mates have managed so far this season in Serie A.
- Though ridden with defensive woes, Napoli have also kept three clean sheets in four games on their home soil.
Each game represents an opportunity for the defending champions Juventus to get back on the saddle and up their title challenge especially one like this where Napoli are experiencing a bit of a knock defensively. However, the Parthenopeans have lost only once in the last eleven matches in all competitions at Stadio Diego Armando Maradonna so they would definitely look to keep it that way when they welcome the Old Lady to Naples.