PRE MATCH: NAPOLI VS JUVENTUS

It's round three of Juventus vs Napoli. After beating Napoli in the Suppa Coppa Italia, Juventus is back at it facing Napoli, in another must-win game where the Old Lady can't afford to drop any points.


After their first league meeting of the season was postponed in controversy the old rivals now clash for the second time in a matter of weeks, following Juve's Supercoppa Italiana triumph last month.


A defeat to Inter in January is the only defeat they have incurred, during a fixture-packed run featuring league, cup, and Supercoppa success - a streak that has elevated them to third in the Serie A standings, just five points behind second-placed Inter, with a game still in hand.

In January, Juventus managed to turn over Milan, Napoli, and Inter - among several others - also keeping clean sheets in all five league matches since losing at San Siro. Their latest victims in the top flight were close contenders Roma, who they leapfrogged in the league table last weekend, as a result of a comfortable 2-0 victory in Turin - the highlight of which was Ronaldo's imperious left-footed opening strike.


Swiftly followed by a successful midweek conclusion to their Derby d'Italia semi-final tie in the Coppa Italia - where a goalless draw saw them progress to meet Atalanta in May's final - the immediate future for Andrea Pirlo's future looks bright.


While Ronaldo continues to top the goalscoring rankings and others such as Federico Chiesa, Alvaro Morata and Weston McKennie have chipped in supporting contributions, the Bianconeri have rarely been concerned about where their next goal will come from. They have, though, significantly tightened their defense too, with a run of six shut-outs in their seven most recent games paying testament to that improvement.


Not in peak form, but still posing a potent threat to any backline, Napoli's attack will be the latest to tackle the challenge of breaking through an increasingly resilient rearguard.

Napoli on the other hand is another story, which is a team in shambles. The pressure might be getting to current Napoli boss Gennaro Gattuso as was evident in their semi-final loss to Atalanta, in the Coppa Italia.


The continuing battle between manager Gattuso and club president Aurelio De Laurentiis surely only has one 'winner' now, after Napoli's temperamental custodian was reportedly furious following their latest pair of defeats.


Upcoming games against Atalanta and then Granada in the Europa League - following this crunch clash with Juventus - are apparently set to be decisive for the future of the tempestuous coach, as candidates such as Rafa Benitez and Max Allegri wait in the wings.


Final Analysis:

With the chance of Juventus making a run, in the second half of the season of a tenth straight Scudetto, there is little to suggest they cannot take advantage of their hosts' defensive woes, further widening a gap between the clubs which was non-existent only a few short weeks ago.


Pace and power out wide and penalty-box cunning through the center should terrify Napoli's makeshift defense, with their talented forwards left with too much to do to make up the deficit.


Final Prediction: Napoli 0-2 Juventus








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