PRE MATCH: JUVENTUS VS NAPOLI
After many appeals by Napoli, this match will finally be replayed. After their first league meeting of the season was postponed amid controversial circumstances, enduring rivals Juventus and Napoli now finally clash in Turin on Wednesday.
With the spoils shared from their two previous meetings this season - following Juve's Supercoppa Italiana triumph, the Partenopei picked up a 1-0 home win in February - the sides are locked together on points and are fighting it out for a Champions League place.
As bitter rivals from either side of the North-South divide, Serie A heavyweights Juventus and Napoli, convene for a third and final time this term, the fallout from the last-minute postponement of this fixture's original date in the autumn continues to resonate.
Back in October, the first scheduled meeting between the pair was controversially canceled at short notice after Napoli failed to turn up when their entire squad was placed in quarantine by Neapolitan health authorities.
Amid confusion and contention, Gennaro Gattuso's team did not travel to Turin's Allianz Stadium after two positive COVID-19 tests in the camp and were subsequently handed a 3-0 loss by the league. Having since won a reprieve following their third appeal against the decision, that 'result' was voided by the CONI (Italian Olympic Committee) and the penalty of a point's deduction was also revoked.
For opponents who share a fractious past relationship that reached a quarrelsome crescendo during the days of Diego Maradona, this was just the latest chapter in a deep-seated rivalry - one which is set to resume on the pitch this week, with potential consequences for either team's hopes of Champions League football next term.
Juventus come into the game in a period of underwhelming form and struggling coach Andrea Pirlo even admitted that his team were "predictable" during Saturday's draw with troubled rivals Torino in the Derby Della Mole.
Though the Bianconeri battled back to salvage a 2-2 draw at the weekend, their previous defeat to modest Benevento and painful Champions League exit at the hands of Porto have highlighted the many shortcomings of Pirlo's side.
Following their inability to turn 71% of possession and a tally of 22 shots at goal into all three points versus Torino, inconsistent Juve is now fourth in the standings - level with Napoli.
From hereon in, Pirlo will have the benefit of a full week to prepare for upcoming games - something which appears to have helped Inter streak clear at the top, as the Milan side look set to break their nine-year ownership of the Scudetto - so will have more time to embed his ambitious plans for flexible and innovative football.
Many, though, have speculated that despite receiving the backing of the club hierarchy, the former midfield maestro's days in the dugout are numbered.
Certainly, a defeat on Wednesday would see his men fall outside the top four with just nine games remaining and further escalate the pressure on his shoulders - with former boss Max Allegri apparently waiting in the wings.
In preparation for their long-anticipated trek north to Turin, Napoli came through a second-half scare in their dramatic 4-3 win over relegation-haunted Crotone on Saturday.