When it comes to big games in the first few months of the season, it’s easy to see why players say that they aren’t decisive. Juventus has played 14 league games this season. Napoli has played 14 league games this season. That means they both have over half of their league scheduled to go before the end of the season arrives.
Yet, it most certainly can be decisive.
You don’t want to be sitting here around the final couple weeks of the season thinking to yourself “Man, I sure wish Juventus had done better the first time around against Napoli...” as they stare up at a team or two above them in the standings.
Games this time of year can be decisive just as much as the ones that are in March and April, it’s just the timing of them that throws everything off. It’s the fact that Juventus and Napoli only play against each other twice, not the fact that the one later in the season is more important than the first one.
We don’t know what the Serie A table will look like when the two teams face each other in late-April in Turin. That’s why, yes, this game is important, too.
Oh, and in case you have forgotten, Juventus are in third place. Napoli are in first place. In many of the last few years, those two teams have been in the opposite spots in the league standings. But not this season. Juve have a four-point gap to try and eliminate.
So, there you go.
We’ve seen Juventus play well in important games this season, namely the win over Milan at the San Siro. But we’ve also seen Juventus struggle in big games, namely in the 3-0 loss to Barcelona and Camp Nou. It seems like it’s a guessing game from week-to-week what kind of squad we’re going to see show up for that respective fixture.
But this is what we do know:
- Mario Mandzukic is out injured after picking up an injury in training.
- Gonzalo Higuain might be forced to start as a result even though his recently-repair broken finger is just barely out of surgery.
That’s exactly what you want to hear going into a big game, right?
(No, no it’s not.)
Location: Stadio San Paolo, Naples, Italy
Kickoff time: 8:45 p.m. local time in Italy; 7:45 p.m. in the United Kingdom; 2:45 p.m. on the East Coast; 11:45 a.m. on the West Coast
Juventus starting XI (4-3-2-1): Buffon; De Sciglio, Benatia, Chiellini, Asamoah; Khedira, Pjanic, Matuidi; Dybala, Douglas Costa; Higuain
Juventus bench: Szczesny, Pinsoglio, Rugani, Alex Sandro, Marchisio, Barzagli, Bentancur, Sturaro, Bernardeschi, Cuadrado
Napoli starting XI (4-3-3): Reina; Hysaj, Albiol, Koulibaly, Mario Rui; Allan, Jorginho, Hamsik; Callejon, Mertens, Insigne
Napoli bench: Sepe, Rafael, Maksimovic, Chiriches, Maggio, Rog, Diawara, Zielinski, Ounas, Giaccherini, Leandrinho
TV: beIN SPORTS USA, beIN SPORTS en Español, Rai Italia America (United States); beIN Sports Canada, beIN SPORTS en Español, Rai Italia America (Canada); BT Sport 2 (United Kingdom); Sky Supercalcio HD, PremiumSport HD, Sky Calcio 1, Sky Sport 1 HD Italia (Italy)
Online/Mobile: fuboTV, beIN SPORTS CONNECT U.S.A. (United States); fuboTV Canada, beIN SPORTS CONNECT Canada, DAZN Canada (Canada); BT Sport Live (United Kingdom); SKY Go Italia, Premium Play (Italy)
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