Stadio San Paolo, Naples
12th January 2015, 1:15am IST
A stern Napoli test, away from home, awaits Juventus in Gameweek 18 of the Italian Serie A. While Juventus were held 1-1 by Inter Milan, last time around, Napoli defeated a hapless Cesna side 4-1. Juventus, are currently leading the Serie A pack with 40 points, but with AS Roma hot on their heels, and only a point adrift, the Bianconneri will be hoping for a win against their opponents. Meanwhile, the race for UEFA Champions League qualifying spot i.e third spot, is open for grabs. Both, Lazio and Napoli are currently tied at 30 points, with the former residing in the third spot due to alphabetical order. However, with possible contenders Genoa and Sampdoria, just a win adrift, Napoli would be hoping to grab all three points and solidify there chances for Europe’s elite competition. With a lot at stake, a cracker of a match is expected to commence at Napoli’s Stadio San Paolo.
Team News and Tactical Brief:
The Neopolitans, boast an impressive form coming into this fixture. Napoli, have only lost one match in their previous six games, in all competitions and moreover defeated opponents Juventus, on penalties, in the Italian Super Cup. Four goals against Cesna, last time around, were clear evidence of Napoli’s bright form.
Rafa Benitez is expected to make a couple of changes and new recruit Manolo Gabbiadini, is expected to start. Napoli are expected to lineup in a 4-2-3-1, with Gonzalo Higuain leading the line. The Neopolitans are expected to field a more defensive option in midfield, in the form of Inler. The attacking trio of Hamsik, Callejon and Gabbiadini, are expected to give Juventus’s defense, a run for their money. Their tacky passing, has been the highlight of Napoli’s season thus far and could cause Juventus trouble. The pace and agility of Jose Maria Callejon, makes him a suitable candidate for counter-attacks. Something, which Napoli could use against Juventus. The heart of Napoli’s defense is expected to be made by Raul Albiol and Koulibaly. Although, Albiol has been in decent form this season, Carlos Tevez of Juventus could prove to be a hefty candidate for both defenders. The wingbacks are expected to be Maggio and Britos made.
Probable Starting XI (4-2-3-1): Rafael, Britos, Koulibaly, Albiol, Maggio, Inler, Lopez, Hamsik, Callejon,Gabbiadini,Higuain.
For some, Juventus might be favorites going into this fixtures. The Bianconneri are suffering through a purple patch and have bagged only one win in their last six games. The Turin based club, dished out a horrendous second half performance against Inter Milan, in the recently concluded Derby della Italia, which ultimately led both sides to share the spoils of battle.
Now, with AS Roma hot on Juventus’s heels and just a point adrift of the top spot, the Bianconneri have to deliver against Napoli. If Juventus drop points against Napoli and AS Roma win against their opponents, then the Roman club would exchange league positions with the Turin based club.
Juventus, are expected to lineup in a 4-3-1-2, with Carlos Tevez and Fernando Llorente, leading the line. A suspension to Leonardo Bonucci, means the inclusion of Angelo Ogbonna, in the starting XI against Napoli. Bonucci, has been a solid performer for Juventus this season and it could prove to be mammoth task for Ogbonna, who is expected to fill his boots. Ogbonna will partner an above average Chiellini, in the heart of defense. Stephan Lichsteiner and Patrice Evra are once again expected to ply their trade as wingbacks. The midfield trio of Andrea Pirlo, Paul Pogba and Claudio Marchisio is expected to start with fellow companion Arturo Vidal, plying his trade as a creative midfielder and powering the two man strike force.
Probable Starting XI (4-3-1-2): Buffon,Lichsteiner,Ogbonna,Chiellini,Evra,Pogba,Pirlo,Marchisio,Vidal,Tevez,Llorente
- Juventus have won only one match in their last six games.
- Napoli are undefeated in their last six games.
- Juventus have not won at Napoli in Serie A since the 2000-01 campaign
- Napoli have lost just once at home this season
Players To Watch Out For:
Arturo Vidal ( Juventus )
Arturo Vidal, could perhaps be Juventus’s knight in shining armor, for this fixture. The Chilean has impressed with this performances thus far and was instrumental in Juventus’s first goal against Inter Milan. His chemistry with Carlos Tevez is impressive and Juventus could bank on the aforementioned to edge out a result in Naples.
Jose Maria Callejon ( Napoli )
The pacey Jose Maria Callejon, is expected to be deployed behind Gonzalo Higuain, and dish out through balls for the latter. Callejon’s ability to play behind the striker and on the wings, makes him unpredictable and dangerous. The former Real Madrid player is also expected to be Napoli’s tip of the spear in counter attacks.
Napoli 1 – Juventus 1
Both, Napoli and Juventus, are expected to go for a win and admist this the sides are expected to nullify each other out. The match, is expected to be played on a frantic pace and end to end stuff could be easily witnessed.
Blast From The Past: