Juventus Stadium, Turin
Saturday 23rd May, 2015, 16:00 GMT
Napoli travel to Turin to face double winners Juventus on Saturday evening with the knowledge that only a victory would be enough to exert pressure on their Roman rivals for the Champions League spots. The Partenopei currently sit fourth, just three points behind Lazio and four behind Roma ahead of their derby meeting on Monday. However, with this clash coming a couple of days before, Napoli would be able to climb up to third with a victory.
Both sides will enter the game in impressive form having won four of their last six Serie A matches, though Rafael Beniteza s best results have generally come at the Stadio San Paolo.
This will be the 138th meeting between the two and the Bianconeri hold a heavy lead in the overall victories, with 62 to Napolia s 29; a difference that is even more pronounced in games in Turin. The Partenopei have only won seven away games against Juventus a most recently in 2009, but more than half of those victories came before 1960.
Team news and tactical brief
This season just keeps getting better with each passing week for Juventus and they are now on the verge of landing a historic treble for the first time in their 117-year history. Having already won the Serie A title earlier this month, they added the Coppa Italia to their growing list of honours by claiming a 2-1 victory over Lazio on Wednesday evening. They got off to the worst possible start by conceding inside of four minutes, but Giorgio Chiellini flicked in a quick equaliser and Alessandro Matri completed the comeback with an extra-time winner to seal a domestic double and their first victory in the cup for 20 years. Their next target is to win the Champions League final against Barcelona in two weeks, and if the La Liga giants manage to win the Copa del Rey final next weekend, then it will be a straight shootout to decide which club lands a treble.
Massimiliano Allegri’s side still have two games left until that European clash and their first order of business will be to finish their league campaign with an unbeaten home record for the second straight season. Their last defeat in Serie A in front of their own supporters came in a 2-1 reverse against Sampdoria over two years ago and they have gone 46 games since without a loss. They actually won every single home game in the league last time around and have dropped points just three times this season. The Bianconeri will be expected to rest a number of players this weekend following their cup success, but even without some of their key squad members, they are still a formidable foe and last weekend they were victorious against Inter Milan with a second-string lineup. Juventus will have to make do without Stephan Lichtsteiner, who sits the game out with a ban. He is expected to be replaced by Simone Padoin at right-back, while there could be a number of other changes to the team that started the cup final. Carlos Tevez, Andrea Pirlo and Chiellini could all be rested, but Claudio Marchisio and Alvaro Morata are likely to start after being banned in midweek.
Probable Starting Line-up (4-3-1-2):Buffon(Gk); Padoin, Bonucci, Ogbonna, Asamoah; Sturaro, Marchisio, Pogba; Pereyra; Matri, Morata
While everything has been going perfectly for Juventus, the exact opposite can be said of Napoli, who have seen their season crumble around them in the past month. They seemed to have recovered from a bad run of form in March, by claiming three wins on the spin that saw them edge closer to the top three. However, a damaging 4-2 defeat against Empoli three weeks ago stopped them in their tracks. The Azzurri bounced back a few days later with a 3-0 win over AC Milan, but their inconsistency came back to haunt them in their next match, with already-relegated Parma holding them to a 2-2 draw. It seemed as if they would falter again on Monday evening after falling behind early on against Cesena, but they fought back to earn a 3-2 victory that has moved them to within three points of third-placed Lazio. That result means that they would move level with Lazio with a win against Juventus and crucially ahead of the Rome club based on their head-to-head record. Anything other than a win this weekend would seriously damage their Champions League chances and would leave them hoping for a Roma victory in the Derby della Capitale next Monday. That would ensure that they can still pip Lazio to third spot when they meet on the final day of the season.
It is not just in the league where they have been poor, as they were dumped out of the Europa League by underdogs Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk last Thursday at the semi-final stage. Their cause has not been helped by the constant speculation surrounding manager Rafael Benitez and the Spaniard has recently been linked with a move to Real Madrid when his contract expires in the summer. Gonzalo Higuain has also been tipped to leave Naples, so the club could be in for a difficult time ahead trying to convince them to stay if they fail to land a Champions League spot. Kalidou Koulibaly is suspended for Napoli, so Miguel Britos should come into the defence to partner Raul Albiol. Higuain will come back into the starting lineup and Dries Mertens could keep his spot in the attack after scoring twice against Cesena, but Lorenzo Insigne may be chosen ahead of him.
Probable Starting Line-up (4-2-3-1): Andujar(Gk); Maggio, Albiol, Britos, Ghoulam; Gargano, David Lopez; Callejon, Hamsik, Mertens; Higuain
- This will be the 138th Serie A meeting between Juventus and Napoli: the Bianconeri have won 62 times so far, the Partenopei only 29 (46 draws).
- The Serie A 2014/15 champions have lost only one of their last eight league matches against Napoli (W4 D3).
- Napoli have won only once in their last 17 Serie A outings away to Juventus (3-2 in October 2009), losing 11 times in the process.
Players to Watch Out For
Alessandro Matri (Juventus)
The Italian scored the crucial winner against Lazio midweek to give Juventus their 10th Coppa Italia crown. With Carlos Tevez likely to sit this game out in order to ensure he is primed and ready for the Champions League final, Allegri may well look to Alessandro Matri for goals; he has yet to net in Serie A since his return from Genoa, though his next goal will be his 80th in Serie A.
Gonzalo Higua n (Napoli)
Argentine striker Higuain has struck 26 times in all competitions, including 16 to sit joint-fourth in this seasona s Serie A goalscoring charts. The 27-year-old recently failed to notch from 10 attempts over two legs against Dnipro, which contributed heavily to Napolia s Europa League downfall. He was denied by a mixture of solid goalkeeping and poor finishing against the Ukrainians, but will be determined to halt an overall four-game goalless streak when facing Juventus.
Juventus 2a 2 Napoli
Champions of Italy, winners of the Coppa Italia and waiting for the 6th of June, Juventus will play the two remaining matches to maintain their form and recover injured players. Napoli’s season could end with a whimper as they are close to failing in all three competitions they have taken part in this term. However, they have not given up hope of qualifying for the Champions League as Roma and Lazio will take points from each other, while the Partenopei meet the Biancocelesti on the last day of the season. Juventus will be the more relaxed as they have just lifted another trophy and the Champions League final is still two weeks away. Playing at home will probably turn this match into a celebration of their most recent title, while Napoli may struggle to focus. it’s likely that Juventus will honour the match the same way they did against Inter, so Napoli will need to be at their best to keep hot on the heels of Roma and Lazio.
Blast From the Past
Fernando Llorente opened the scoring for the hosts before Andrea Pirlo produced a wonderful free kick to double the hosts advantage. Paul Pogba sealed the points emphatically.