Serie A’s top two teams are set to meet Saturday for a top-of-the-table clash that could have serious title implications: League leaders Napoli travel to Turin to face Juventus, who after a disastrous start to the season have surged to within two points of the top spot.
It’s an enticing encounter between the best two teams in Serie A. And unlike many other such matches, where both teams close up shop and simply try not to lose, Napoli boss Maurizio Sarri has vowed that his team will be on the attack.
“We’ll play our football,” [Sarri said at his pre-match press conference])http://www.football-italia.net/79754/sarri-%E2%80%98napoli-will-attack%E2%80%99). “Experience tells us that when we stop playing [our way] we become vulnerable, so our only chance to get something from such a tremendous stadium and an opponent like Juventus is by playing our football.”
Napoli have risen to the top of the table largely on the back of a hot streak from striker Gonzalo Higuain; the Argentine is the in-form striker in Europe currently, with 24 goals in 24 Serie A matches. Higuain has been aided and abetted this season by fellow striker Lorenzo Insigne, who has racked up 10 goals and 10 assists of his own.
But while Napoli may boast the best attack in Italy, they face the daunting task of going to Turin to face a Juventus side that since November has only conceded four goals. Juve are also currently in the midst of a 14-game uninterrupted winning streak, a new club record.
Despite the high-profile departures in the summer, Juve still fields a side that’s by far the best in Italy. However, if Napoli have any reason to find optimism, it’s because Juve boss Max Allegri is dealing with a number of injuries at the moment.
Mario Mandzukic, Giorgio Chiellini, Kwadwo Asamoah and Martin Caceres will all miss the game, while Sami Khedira is in serious doubt. Juve have the depth to absorb these injuries and carry on steamrolling the competition for the most part. But this is Napoli we’re talking about, a team that this season, has defied the status quo and currently looks to pose the greatest threat to the domestic dominance we’ve seen Juve enjoy in recent years.
With 13 rounds left in the season, it’s too early to call Saturday’s match a title-decider. But a Napoli win would see the Azzurri open up a five-point lead at the top of the table. A Juventus victory on the other hand, could take the wind out of Napoli’s sails and reinforce the prevailing feeling that the Scudetto simply belongs to the Bianconeri at the moment.