Clay McGibbonJuventus vs Napoli, Saturday August 31st, 19:45, Allianz Stadium. Last season’s top two Serie A sides meet early in the new campaign with both looking to set a marker for the title race to come.
Last season’s top two Serie A sides meet early in the new campaign with both looking to set a marker for the title race to come.
If ever Juventus’ dominance over Serie A is going to come to an end, it feels like it’ll be this season. The Old Lady have thrown everything at winning the Champions League and surely can’t maintain their grip on domestic affairs while so preoccupied with Europe, and have a new coach in Maurizio Sarri too.
Napoli, by contrast, would love to lift the Scudetto again. And they’ve had some stability over the summer, keeping Kalidou Koulibaly, Faouzi Ghoulam and Dries Mertens, and adding Kostas Manolas and Hirving Lozano. Carlo Ancelotti remains the coach, and is a serial winner.
The Partenopei have come the closest to stopping the Juve juggernaut in recent seasons but last year there was a distinct gap between the sides – 11 points, up from four the year before. Juve won both meetings, too – 2-1 at Napoli and 3-1 at home. The season before there was only a goal between the teams each time, and Napoli even won in Turin.
This then is Napoli’s chance to show they’ve closed the gap again. And they probably play Juve at a good time – early in the season with Juve under a new coach who has his own unique way of playing. There’s still unrest at the champions too – over the future of Paolo Dybala in the main.
That’s not the case for Napoli, who are buoyant after the signing of the much-wanted Lozano, prised from PSV Eindhoven. He’ll join Mertens and Lorenzo Insigne, who both started the season on the score sheet in the 4-3 win at Fiorentina, to make an impressive attacking unit.
A Napoli win really issues a statement but Juve, for all the uncertainty around them at this stage, have the knack of getting results when it matters. Napoli might take the lead, but Juve will hang in – 1-1.
Napoli have vowed to keep attacking, even after conceding three goals against Fiorentina. If they get on the front foot, they can be the first team on the scoreboard. It’s 161/100 that Napoli score first, with Royal Panda.
Juventus weren’t at their best in beating Parma last weekend, and with Maurizio Sarri not able to devote all his time to the team due to his health, his methods aren’t likely to have taken root yet. But the bookies will know Juventus are old stagers and can come back to level, after losing the first half. 10Bet price Napoli winning the first half at 38/11.
Head to Head
There hasn’t been a draw between Juventus and Napoli since the 2014 Supercoppa Italia – and that was won on penalties by Napoli.
Despite finishing 11 points clear of Napoli last season, Juventus actually scored fewer goals than their opponents – 70 to 74.
Napoli boss Ancelotti spent two years in charge at Juventus, between February 1999 and June 2001. He took charge of 114 games, and won 63 of them.
Ancelotti failed to win a significant trophy during his time at Juve – only the old Intertoto Cup. He then went on to win the Champions League on three occasions, twice with Milan and once with Real Madrid.
Napoli haven’t won the Scudetto since 1989-90. Juventus have won it 13 times since then.
A life-long Bury fan, Clay has realized his dreams of seeing his boyhood club reach the lofty heights of Premier League glory are very unlikely. Though currently living in London, Clay never misses the opportunity to watch his team on the stream. Often spotted at centre-back in Sunday League, Clay has settled for reporting on the top teams throughout Europe. He has recently taken a liking to the NFL, and hopes to be able to attend an NFL game at Wembley this year.