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Juventus vs. Napoli match preview: Time, TV schedule, and how to watch the Serie A

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No matter what happens, Juve will leave Naples with a double-digit lead over Napoli. So, hey, there’s that.

Juventus v SSC Napoli - Serie A Photo by Gabriele Maltinti/Getty Images

Back when Juventus and Napoli played at the Allianz Stadium at the end of September, the 3-1 victory Max Allegri’s squad recorded wasn’t just a dominant performance over its closest league rival. Even though the season was still very young, it was looked on as a potential taking off point knowing that Juve’s new star-studded signing who had two assists in the game was already starting to click with his new teammates.

In terms of establishing a comfortable margin over your closest competition, Juventus has done exactly that since the early-season win over Napoli.

When it comes to how the team is actually playing these days, well, that’s a totally different kind of matter that we’re still wondering where the heck to go as we enter the month of March.

Juventus will head to the Stadio San Paolo this weekend, a place where they have had some of the most exciting and thrilling wins over this seven-year Scudetto run. This time, though, there’s no major title implications or anything like that hanging over the final meeting of the season between Serie A’s first- and second-place teams. Sure, it’s No. 1 against No. 2, but with a 13-point gap separating the two, there’s only so much that can truly ride on a game like this one no matter how hungry Napoli will be to send a little payback in Juve’s direction.

It is a rivalry game. But is it really a big game at this point?

(Go ahead and post 1,000 comments below depending on how you feel about it.)

We all know what game this month truly matters in the grand scheme of things. And it’s not really the one being played on the third day of the month, rather the one that’s nine days after Juventus and Napoli face each other for the final time this season.

Sure, beating Napoli would be perfectly OK in my book because when is it never not enjoyable to hand your closest competition another loss. And, when you consider how Juve has played for the better part of the last three months, maybe a rivalry game is something that, at least momentarily, will snap them out of this current funk they find themselves in.

Either way, because of the situation where Juventus has a larger-than ever cushion in Serie A, a game that would normally be dubbed a defining game in the season isn’t exactly that. For Juventus, it’s a big game because it’s a rival, but it’s not exactly one where the outcome of the Scudetto hinges on which direction the result goes.

That’s the blessing of having a 13-point lead in early-March.

Can’t exactly say that was the case against Napoli last season. But it will be nice knowing that any late-game Kalidou Koulibaly happenings like what happened in the return fixture last season will totally throw a wrench into things again. (It turned out to be OK last season, so there’s that, too.)

The main thing a lot of us want to see? I’m guessing it’s that Juventus actually look like a competent team again. You know, like the one that actually could give Atlético Madrid a run for their money in a week in a half.

GOOD NEWS

Thirteen point lead and Juve hasn’t played a game in March yet. That’s good, right?

BAD NEWS

Y’all seen how poorly Juve’s been playing lately. That’s bad, right?

THREE KEYS

1) The state of Juventus’ best player

The last time we saw Cristiano Ronaldo on the field, he was bad ... very, very bad. He looked every bit of the guy who has played more minutes than any Juventus player this season. His end product was that of a dude he just looked flat out gassed and didn’t have much left in the tank — at all.

This was basically the visual representation of Ronaldo’s performance against Bologna:

Danilo Di Giovanni/Soccrates/Getty Images

Yeah, pretty much that.

The days following the win over Bologna was Ronaldo being examined for a knock he picked up in the second half, missing a training session as a result and then returning to full training later on in the week. Everybody thought that Ronaldo was a doubt once the news regarding a missed training session spread, but Allegri was quick to point out what we pretty much expected after Juve’s No. 7 returned to regular training on Thursday — he’s playing.

I’m going to venture a guess that Ronaldo’s rest will come on Friday against Udinese, which means Sunday’s trip to the San Paolo will be the bulk of the minutes he plays between now and Aléti’s arrival in Turin.

There might not be a lot riding on this trip to Naples, but seeing Ronaldo looking like the Ronaldo who torched the Napoli defense in the first meeting between the two teams sure would be nice, wouldn’t it?

2) The state of Juventus’ midfield

Ah, the problem child of the bunch.

Allegri threw out the possibility of going with a more attack-friendly look when he spoke at his pre-match press conference on Saturday, which pretty much translates to a 4-2-3-1 being used. That hasn’t exactly convinced the Italian media that it will be the case, though, with a 4-3-3 being the go-to formation when it comes to the predicted lineups floating about the interwebs.

That means an attacking trident of Ronaldo, Mario Mandzukic and Paulo Dybala, which is pretty much the way you’d expect Allegri to go.

The midfield, however, is anybody’s guess. (That sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

There’s only four choices no matter which way Allegri goes with a two- or three-man midfield. And outside of the two-man midfield being thrown out there, this is pretty much all we know as to who is playing in the center of the park:

Thanks, Max!

3) The state of Juventus as a whole

The Bologna match last weekend was obviously one where we wanted to see Juventus’ players take out a little bit of anger against a relegation-threatened side. What happened was the exactly opposite, with a lethargic effort being bailed out by Dybala’s game-winner.

As much as we want a good result against Napoli, the simple fact of Juventus looking like a competent team again might as well be the end game in Sunday’s trip to the San Paolo. That might be a little too much to ask for some, but maybe the fact that it’s a rivalry game being played in hostile territory — although there’s going to be plenty of Juve supporters there because there are a good number of them in Southern Italy — snaps them into a proper mindset once again.

Everybody is going to have March 12 on their minds no matter who Juventus is playing on Sunday and then next Friday. That’s simple. With such a large Serie A lead, the focus should be on the Champions League — and that’s before you take into consideration just how crappy the first leg in Spain ended up being for Allegri and friends.

Even though Juve has two games to go between now and then, the simple objective of getting this thing going in the right direction again rather than scratching and clawing to do anything right against a relegation battler has to be Allegri’s prerogative.

So, as much as a poor result will make some people grumble, an equally bad performance will have Max Allegri even happier that he doesn’t have his Twitter mentions being flooded with complaints anymore.

MATCH INFO

When: Sunday, March 3, 2019

Where: Stadio San Paolo, Naples, Italy

Official kickoff time: 8:30 p.m. local time in Italy and around Europe; 7:30 p.m. in the United Kingdom; 2:30 p.m. Eastern Time; 11:30 a.m. Pacific Time

HOW TO WATCH

Television: RAI Italia America (United States); TLN, RAI Italia America (Canada); Sky Supercalcio HD, Sky Calcio 1, Sky Sport Uno, Sky Sport Serie A (Italy)

Online/mobile: ESPN+ (United States); DAZN (Canada); Premier Sports 1 (United Kingdom); SKY Go Italia (Italy)

Other live viewing options can be found here, and as always, you can also follow along with us live and all the stupid things we say on Twitter. If you haven’t already, join the community on Black & White & Read All Over, and join in the discussion below.

Other live viewing options can be found here, and as always, you can also follow along with us live and all the stupid things we say on Twitter. If you haven’t already, join the community on Black & White & Read All Over, and join in the discussion below.