Juventus vs Napoli
With a 14-point lead at the top of Serie A, it is a matter of “when” not “if” Luciano Spalletti’s Napoli win the 2022/23 Scudetto.
Gli Azzurri can’t do it this weekend, but they can take another big stride when they meet Juventus on Sunday, but Bianconeri boss Max Allegri has other plans.
After taking a 15-point punishment in January, the Old Lady’s season looked to be fizzling out but her Serie A 2023 results held up. And when the penalty was overturned this week, Juventus landed in third place and six points clear of fifth-placed AC Milan.
So, with a Champions League place back on the table, the visitors have plenty to play for and it’s down to Napoli to take the initiative in Turin.
Gli Azzurri drew 0-0 with Hellas Verona last week, while Juventus lost 1-0 away to Sassuolo. But the two teams had different fortunes in midweek.
While Napoli went out of the Champions League to AC Milan on Tuesday, Juventus navigated a Europa League tie away to Sporting Lisbon on Thursday.
Juventus cannot stop Napoli winning the title, but they might put the celebrations back another week.
Reinvented Rabiot is Juventus’ heartbeat
Allegri has plenty of top class players in his side, but the one who has stood out as “most improved” has to be France midfielder Adrien Rabiot.
Four years ago, he refused to be called up by his national side as a reserve for the 2018 World Cup, but at Qatar 2022 he was one of Les Bleus’ standout performers with his all-action displays and he has brought this form back to Turin.
With eight goals in the league, Rabiot has been one of the Old Lady’s best attacking threats behind the front two of Dusan Vlahovic and Federico Chiesa, and he scored the goal which gave Juve a two-goal cushion against Sporting Lisbon on Thursday.
Marcus Edwards pulled one back for the Portuguese side, but I Bianconeri saw the game out to book a semi-final place against Sevilla.
Rabiot did give a penalty away, but you can excuse a box-to-box midfielder the odd mistake if he keeps up his energetic persona.
Striker Vlahovic also has eight league goals and he will feed off the supply from wing-back Juan Cuadrado and winger Filip Kostic, who has provided eight assists this term.
Juventus have not had the best of seasons, but they always carry a threat and will be right up for this blockbuster clash. They are in the semi-finals of the Coppa Italia and the Europa League, and the latest Serie A 2023 betting odds say they will finish in the top four.
It could still be a fine campaign for the Old Lady.
Napoli’s focus is crystal clear
While Juve are fighting on three fronts, Napoli are out of the Champions League and the Coppa Italia and have a seemingly unassailable lead at the top of the league. So they have one very clear objective: to win the Scudetto as soon as possible.
Napoli may be able to channel their disappointment at their unexpected exit from the Champions League to AC Milan. And if they do, they can beat Juventus and potentially be one step away.
And the two men most likely to deliver are top scorer Victor Osimhen and winger Khvicha Kvaratskhelia.
Kvaratskhelia has stunned Serie A with his electrifying runs, ball skills, and shooting ability. He’s been likened to the legendary George Best and that is some accolade.
Napoli just need one bit of magic from either of these two players to win a game though they both drew a blank in last week’s match at home to Hellas Verona starting on the bench. They will take the field from the off against Juventus, while Giovanni Simeone will sit this one out through injury.
Any title-winning team needs top quality from one to 11 and Napoli have that in abundance. Midfielder ace Piotr Zielinski will have a fascinating tussle with Rabiot, backed up by the excellent Stanislav Lobotka, while keeper Alex Meret is one of the standout stoppers in Europe and wing-back Giovanni Di Lorenzo will continue to lead the team by example.
Napoli are so nearly there.
Juventus have won 27 of the last 55 encounters with Napoli who have picked up 17 victories and there have been 11 draws. In the most recent meeting, a league match in Naples in January, Gli Azzurri thrashed the Old Lady 5-1 as Osimhen scored a double.
Are Napoli stuttering towards the finish line? Well, with two wins, two draws, and two defeats from the last six games, they are not the unbeatable side which romped to such a big lead, though two of those games were in the Champions League.
Juventus have been impressive at home this season with 11 wins, three draws, and one defeat, but Napoli have been even better away, with 13 wins, one draw, and one defeat.
Juventus are priced at 2.75 to win with SBOTOP and 2.80 to draw, with the champions-elect at 2.44 to pick up all three points. This will be a brilliant game for the neutrals and one which, I suspect, will take Napoli a little closer to their destiny.
A SHORT EXPLANATION ON HOW OUR (⭐) BETS ARE WORTH:
⭐⭐⭐= €20 (HIGHLY CONFIDENT)
⭐⭐= €10 (CONFIDENT)
⭐= €5 (SOMEWHAT CONFIDENT)
Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.
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