Just a few weeks after meeting in the Italian Supercoppa final, Juventus will travel to Diego Maradona Stadium to take on Napoli, who has been absolutely horrendous to watch as of late. Coming off a 3-1 thumping from Atalanta, Napoli hopes to salvage their so far disappointing season and manager Rino Gattuso hopes to save his job versus the Bianconeri who have finally found their form. Andrea Pirlo’s men got off to a slow start but look like a completely new team as of late and have themselves in third place, behind Milan and Inter with a game in hand. Led by a defense headlined by players such as Matthijs De Ligt and Giorgio Chiellini, Juventus has only allowed more than one goal ONCE in Serie A play and with an attack led by none other than Christiano Ronaldo, this game is the Juve’s to lose. Like I previously stated, Napoli has been abysmal as of late, however, not all of it is on Gattuso as they have dealt with many injuries. In their most recent match, the Coppa Italia semi final versus Atalanta, they were without both of their center backs in Kalidou Koulibaly and Kostas Manolas as well as one of their best attackers, Dries Mertens and Atalanta made them pay. All three will miss the match versus Juventus and midfielder Diego Demme was hurt during the Atalanta match so he will also be unavailable versus Juve. Their young forward, Victor Osimhen who Napoli spent 70 million euros on, returned to the lineup versus Atalanta after being sidelined almost all season and looked absolutely atrocious as he missed a very easy goal and could seem to win an aerial to save his life. From the looks of it, he is not 100% and will possibly come off the bench making way for the journeyman striker, Andrea Petagna. Gattuso is doing all he can to fix things in Napoli but given the circumstances, I don’t think any manager in the world could make things right for them, a bad loss here could equal him getting sacked. Juventus has a few injuries themselves but nothing that really makes them vulnerable in this match as they are a very deep squad and can fill their gaps very easily. I expect Juve to win this match incredibly easily as this is the perfect to play Napoli.
Keys for both sides
Create as many chances as possible right from the start, take advantage of Napoli’s defensive injuries and get your playmakers (Chiesa, Ronaldo) into easy 1v1 battles.
The one question mark with Juventus this season was their midfield, toward the beginning of the Serie A season players like Rabiot would be making careless passes non stop gifting opposing teams easy goals. If they can dumb it down and not try to do to much, like they have been recently, expect Juventus to dominate in every category.
With countless attackers and defenders out for them, if they are going to even get a point here, they must win the midfield battle. I think Gattuso will stray from the 4-3-3 formation he used versus Atalanta and use a 4-2-3-1, converting Bakayoko back to his usual role using him in a 2 man pivot with Fabian Ruiz who did not play in the last match.
Szczesny; Danilo, De Ligt, Chiellini, Sandro; Cuadrado, Bentancur, Rabiot, Chiesa; Morata, Ronaldo
Ospina; Di Lorenzo, Maksimovic, Rrahmani, Rui; Ruiz, Bakayoko; Lozano, Zielinski, Insigne; Osimhen.
Even if Napoli was fully healthy it would be very tough to see them defeat Juventus who has looked the best they have all season. With all the injuries in the defense and missing Mertens in the attack, it will be incredibly tough for Napoli to create chances and even if they do win the possession battle it is very tough seeing them net one versus Juventus’ defense.
Juventus 3- Napoli 1
Best Bet: Juventus ML
Juve- Ronaldo 2x, Chiesa