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SerieAWeekly On November - 5 - 2011

Napoli vs Juventus Scudetto Contenders Duke It Out

by serieaweekly guest writer Matthew Coccoluto

This Sunday will see Juventus travel to the San Paolo to take on Napoli and as always there are some interesting story lines coming into this matchup.

Juventus are coming off a strong win against Inter last weekend and are hoping to remain the leagues only unbeaten team. Napoli on the other hand have hit a bit of a slump, winning only one game in their last four league matches. To add to Napoli’s recent troubles, a mid-week loss to Bayern Munich during Champions League group play. It appears the task of competing in Serie A and the Champions League has had its effect on Napoli which makes a positive result this weekend that much more important.

The home squad will be without midfielder Mario Santana who is suspended after picking up his second yellow card, not a giant loss as he has only started four games in all competitions. A potential big loss for Napoli is Walter Gargano as it is possible that the midfielder may not be match fit in time for Sunday’s clash. To further add to Napoli’s motivation for a win, Walter Mazzarri is looking for his 100th win as a Serie A manager and will no doubt want to earn the accomplishment in front of the home crowd.

Juventus currently sit on top of the table and will be looking to add some cushion by putting themselves eight points clear of Napoli, who currently sit in 5th, five points back. This will not be an easy task as traveling to the San Paolo always proves to be difficult. Juventus have lost the last four times they have played at Napoli. They have also been held winless in the last four times the two teams have met, drawing two and losing two. Overall their encounters are quite even with 20 wins for Juve, 25 draws, and 21 wins for Napoli.

Expect Conte to go with the same formation that won the last two games. Conte will most likely keep Giaccherini out as he is just returning from a thigh injury. Fabio Quaglierella, who has only come on in one game this season, picked up a slight knock in training which could take him out of the game Sunday. All eyes will be on the Juventus defense as Napoli posses a very heavy attacking team that can expose weak outsides, which Juventus currently have major issues with. Responsibility will fall on Stephan Lichtsteiner and Giorgio Chiellini to perform at their best against a very talented Napoli side. The defense will most likely have to deal with the attacking trio of Edinson Cavani, Ezequiel Lavezzi, and Marek Hamsik, a formidable test for any backline. For Juventus it will be a matter of finishing opportunities. They have had an incredible 58 shots on goal this season, but only 15 goals. Expect Matri to trouble the defense as he continues his fine form. With the issues surrounding Cassano and Giuseppe Rossi, there may be a few openings in the national side that Matri will be hunting for. A man to watch will be Napoli’s Christian Maggio as he has proven to be a player who is all over the pitch and difficult to track.

Expect Mazzarri to go with a similar lineup as he did against Bayern in midweek, with major questions about the defenders. One would usually expect Paolo Cannavaro, Salvatore Arnoica, and Campagnaro to start but I wouldn’t be surprised to see mid-week hero, Federico Fernandez come in since finding the back of the net twice in Munich. For Juventus, expect the same line-up with Mirko Vucinic and Pepe playing winger to Matri.

Probable Formations

Napoli: De Sanctis; Cannavaro, Aronica, Campagnaro; Inler, Zuniga, Dossena, Maggio; Cavani, Lavezzi, Hamsik

Juventus: Buffon; Lichsteiner, Bonucci, Barzagli, Chiellini; Marchisio, Vidal, Pirlo; Vucinic, Matri, Pepe

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