There are still 13 games left after this big match so how could you say this will decide the Scudetto? Yet the theory is there, you could be correct if you say that. Also keep this in mind as well, do either of these teams look like they will slip again? Highly unlikely. If Napoli pulls away with a win it means they would be five points ahead of Juventus, a substantial but not definitive lead. If the latter wins, the Bianconeri will be ahead by a single point, doesn’t sound like a lot, but Juventus don't look like slipping having won 14 straight league matches.
When former Napoli and Juventus defender Fabio Cannavaro was asked about the fixture, he had this to say:
“To win the Scudetto you need to get a result in Turin. I’ll support Napoli: It’s my city, my heart is there. At Juve they respect Napoli.” Cannavaro told Gazzetta dello Sport.
If The Old Lady comes out victorious this coming weekend, they will be league leaders for the very first time this year in Serie A. Even captain Gigi Buffon admits this is completely “unthinkable”, after the teams poor start to the season. Juventus haven’t conquered Italy five times consecutively since the 1930’s. This would be marked as one of Juventus’ biggest achievements, even larger then Antonio Conte’s undefeated season and almost conquering the treble! This season saw them lose key figures like Carlitos Tevez, who proved pivotal in their treble chase, Andrea Pirlo and the Chilean engine Arturo Vidal but yet, they may still be able to retain the title even those they got off to their worst start in 103 years (103!? There must be something in the Turin water).
If the Bianconeri were to lose, then Napoli would have the upper hand on the “former” champions because they won their previous fixture in September, but Napoli has only done the double on Juventus three times, scoring only one goal at J Stadium while the latter has 11.
What makes this Napoli a larger threat than Roma was under Rudi Garcia is that Maurizio Sarri has conviction. The Neapolitan knows how to put a nail in the coffin, he doesn’t let up and has gotten the best out of Argentinian hit man Gonzalo Higuan, who has hit the back of the net 24 times in 24 games, his previous record of 27 looks like it’ll be shattered this year.
The old cliché will definitely have a say in the final result; what is better, the best defense or the best offense? Juventus have only conceded 15 goals this season, only one coming in 2016; meaning Gigi hasn’t picked up the ball from his own goal in five whole games. There have been four games this season their opponent didn’t even register a shot on target!
Now for the best attack - Napoli have scored 53 league goals, 78 in all competitions averaging 2.2 goals a game. MSN is the only trio outscoring Higuan, Lorenzo Insigne and Jose Calejon across Europe’s top five leagues. Insigne was the first player in Europe’s top five leagues to get double figures for both goals and assists, where as Calejon has nine goals in his last eight appearances. Now if that attack doesn’t scare some Juventini, just remember that you’ll be missing a key defensive figure in Giorgio Chiellini, and Martin Caceres can’t even come in to try and fill the gap left by the Gorilla. We might see the talented young defender Daniele Rugani, sought after by many major clubs, including Napoli.
But the battle won’t be won in either defense or attack; it’ll be won in the midfield. Paul Pogba vs. Marek Hamsik, both players have the ability to flip a game on its head. Claudio Marchisio vs. Jorginho, both tempo setting players that can calm the play down. With Sami Khedira out due to injury, Stefano Sturaro will most likely take his place and go up against the Brazilian rock Allan.
Now let’s look at the Juventus attack, from one Argentinian hit man to another. Paulo Dybala has registered 13 goals and seven assists so far this season. Don’t be fooled by his numbers when compared to Higuan, Dybala is just as potent in attack as Higuan, his feet will make you feel like you’re watching a match played amongst the gods, he glides by the opponents as if they weren’t even there. Mario Mandzukic will be out due to injury but Alvaro Morata and/or Simone Zaza will be able to step in for him.
Come game time, we will see which team will leave it all on the field and hold nothing back. Will it be the best attack in Italy, or the best defense? Will it be the future of Argentina leading the charge or the present of Argentina? Will it be the tactical mastermind Massimiliano Allegri or will it be the aggressive Sarri?