Reigning champions Juventus will lock horns against title challengers Napoli on Matchday two of the 2019-20 Serie A on Saturday evening.
Juventus will be aiming to continue their winning start to the 2019-20 Serie A campaign, when they face off against last season’s runners-up Napoli at the Allianz Stadium this weekend. It will be the first time Juve’s new manager Maurizio Sarri will go head to head against his former employers, after having left the club last year.
Juventus kicked off the new season with a narrow 1-0 win against Parma courtesy of a first-half goal from Giorgio Chiellini. Following the win, the Bianconeri find themselves in the seventh position in the table owing to a poor goal difference and will be looking to climb up the ladder with a resounding win against their closest title challengers.
Juventus had to make do without the presence of manager Sarri on the touchline against Parma, as the Italian was diagnosed with pneumonia. Sarri’s assistant, Giovanni Martusciello, took charge of the game last weekend, but there is a slight chance that the Italian could be back on the field on Saturday when the champions clash against his former club.
Napoli’s season was off to a blazing start as they saw off a stern test from Fiorentina, triumphing 4-3 in a pulsating encounter away from home. Carlo Ancelotti’s side are stationed in the fourth spot in the Serie A standings and will be aiming to take all three points against Juve to announce themselves as serious contenders for the title.
Juventus picked up victories in both their games against the Partenopei in the 2018-19 campaign. And ahead of the latest clash between the champions and the title contenders, we at The Hard Tackle take a closer look at both teams.
Team News & Tactics
Juventus have been dealt with a huge blow as captain Giorgio Chiellini is ruled out after suffering an ACL injury during training on the eve of the match, which could pave the way for Matthijs de Ligt to make his debut. New signing Aaron Ramsey is still not fully fit and will have to wait till after the international break to make his debut for Juventus, while Marko Pjaca is ruled out.
Club legend Gianluigi Buffon returned to Juventus this summer after a season with PSG, but will have to play second-fiddle to Wojciech Szczesny, who is the undisputed first-choice between the sticks.
Mattia De Sciglio and Alex Sandro should continue as the full-backs for the champions, with Leonardo Bonucci at the heart of the defence alongside new signing de Ligt, who should get the nod ahead of Daniele Rugani.
Miralem Pjanic will look to control the proceedings from the deep midfield position for the champions, with Sami Khedira and Blaise Matuidi providing the energy and legs on either of side of the Bosnian. New signing Adrien Rabiot is likely to make a substitute appearance once again.
The three-pronged attack should comprise of star man Cristiano Ronaldo on the left flank, with South American pair Douglas Costa and Gonzalo Higuain occupying the other two slots. Paulo Dybala and Federico Bernardeschi will provide options from the bench.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Szczesny; De Sciglio, Bonucci, de Ligt, Sandro; Khedira, Pjanic, Matuidi; Costa, Higuain. Ronaldo
Striker Arkadiusz Milik is the only injury-enforced absentee for Carlo Ancelotti’s side heading into Saturday’s high-profile encounter. New signing Hirving Lozano trained with the first-team and could make his debut from the bench against the champions.
Ancelotti is unlikely to make any changes that beat Fiorentina on the opening day, but will demand more discipline from his defenders going up against a side filled with an array of dangerous attackers. Alex Meret, who was sent off when Napoli faced Juventus last time, is likely to be a busy man between the sticks on Saturday.
New signing Giovanni Di Lorenzo should continue at right-back ahead of Elseid Hysaj and Kevin Malcuit, while Mario Rui should hold on to his spot on the opposite side ahead of Faouzi Ghoulam. Kostas Manolas will pair up with Kalidou Koulibaly at the heart of the defence and look to tackle the threat of Higuain.
Brazilian midfielder Allan will be tasked with providing cover to the backline from Juve’s midfield runners, while Piotr Zielinski and Fabian Ruiz will offer the creativity and forward thrust from the centre of the park.
Jose Callejon and Lorenzo Insigne both scored in the win against Fiorentina and will be a major threat from the wide areas, while Dries Mertens, who also found the net last week, should continue to spearhead the attack for the Partenopei.
Probable Lineup (4-1-4-1): Meret; Di Lorenzo, Manolas, Koulibaly, Rui; Allan; Callejon, Zielinski, Ruiz, Insigne; Mertens
- Juventus have won seven of their last eight home games against Napoli in the Serie A, with the only defeat in coming in April last year (0-1).
- Napoli have won six of their last nine away league matches (D1 L2), scoring two or more goals in each of those victories.
- Juventus have won all three of their matches against Napoli when facing them in their opening home game of a Serie A season (10 goals scored, 6 conceded).
- Napoli have won their opening two matches in each of the previous two Serie A campaigns.
- Juventus striker Gonzalo Higuain played 104 Serie A games for Napoli between 2013 and 2016, netting 71 goals. Since leaving the club, the Argentine has clashed against the Partenopei in five league matches, scoring two goals.
Player to Watch
The Portuguese maverick made a scintillating start to life in Italy, as he plundered 28 goals and assisted 10 more from 43 appearances across all competitions in his first season with Juventus. Ronaldo, however, did not have the best of games against Parma last weekend and will be hoping to open his goalscoring account for the season when he takes the field on Saturday.
The 34-year-old failed to score in both of his appearances against Napoli in the 2018-19 season. In fact, Ronaldo has never found the back of the net against the Partenopei, having faced them on four occasions till date (twice with Real Madrid). He will be aiming to change that this weekend and fire his team to a victory.
Juventus 2-1 Napoli
Juventus won their opening fixture against Parma by a narrow margin despite controlling the game for most parts. They looked like a team still getting used to the new manager’s ways and methods and will be in for a stern test against Napoli, who showed great fight to clinch a win against Fiorentina in their opening week thriller.
The two teams are stacked with attacking firepower in plenty, but Juventus seem to have a more settled look to their defence in comparison to Napoli, who have two new faces in their four-man backline. And that is why, we at The Hard Tackle are tipping the reigning champions to pick up a narrow win against their challengers at the Allianz Stadium.