Serie A Preview: Scudetto contenders face off

Not since the late 90s has there been such optimism surrounding Naples. After seven games, Napoli are joint top of the Serie A standings, level with defending champions Juventus on 19 points. The top two sides meet this weekend, in what will undoubtedly be a dramatic evening in Turin.

Walter Mazzarri’s side acquired plenty of new fans after dazzling the European stage in the Champions League last season with their blistering counter-attacking style of football, and they continue to improve domestically.

Napoli have six wins and a draw from their opening seven games, mirroring rivals Juventus who have now gone an incredible 46 league games unbeaten. The Partenopei are likely to provide Juventus with a stern challenge to both their unbeaten record and the defence of their title.

Despite the loss of Ezequiel Lavezzi in the summer to big-spending PSG, the Neapolitans have continued their building process over the last two seasons and there is growing belief around Italy that they can keep up the pace this time round.

Goran Pandev has ably filled the void left by ‘El Pocho’, while teen sensation Lorenzo Insigne and fellow youngster Eduardo Vargas have played their part too. Edinson Cavani continues to lead the line, as well as the goal-scoring charts, with six goals thus far.

After speaking with Marco La Nave, founder of the Napoli Fans Club London, it is clear that the immediate future is much more important, and a win over Juventus would give the supporters a great sense of satisfaction;

“At the moment we’re not thinking about the Serie A title as it is still too early. The team, coach and fans must focus to win every single game this season and at the end we will see where we are. What we want is for them to work hard and stay together.

“For this game, we hope for revenge after the Super Cup final defeat in China. Our hunger to win and beat Juventus is stronger than ever after that game and I hope we can repeat our performance against them in the Coppa Italia final in Rome last May. Most of all, I hope the referee is fair. Forza Napoli!”

However, the Bianconeri show no sign of surrendering their magnificent run, demonstrating the resolve that has been a hallmark of Antonio Conte’s side with their win at Siena a fortnight ago. Despite the absence of the aforementioned Conte, Massimo Carrera has stepped in on match-days to ensure there is no let up.

Andrea Pirlo continues to be instrumental, pulling the strings in the midfield as the goals are shared throughout the team, with no less than 10 different goal-scorers thus far this season. The Italian international was in sublime form for the Azzurri on Tuesday night, contributing two excellent assists en route to a 3-1 win over Denmark.

Juventus have struggled at times adapting to the introduction of Champions League fixtures to their schedule this season, but remain the team to beat while Napoli have emerged as their nearest rivals.

These two sides met back in August, in what proved to be a bad-tempered and controversial Super Cup in Beijing. Juventus were 4-2 winners after extra-time, but results between the two have been fairly sporadic in recent years.

In the last five meetings in all competitions, Napoli have two wins and two draws with just a solitary win for Juve. However, the southern giants haven’t enjoyed great league success in Turin, a rare victory in 2009 standing alone in recent years.

Odds: Juventus – 1.75 | Draw – 3.40 | Napoli 4.75

Cavani is likely to provide the biggest threat to Juventus, and the Uruguayan star is at 2.25 to score at anytime. However, Juve have conceded just one goal at home so far this season, while Napoli have yet to concede on the road. Something must give on Saturday evening, and it may play a part in the race for the Scudetto.


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19/10/2012 - posted by
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