Once the positive COVID-19 cases started truly rolling in at Genoa and knowing who they had just played last weekend, the status of Juventus’ game against Napoli this Sunday night immediately had a giant question mark on it. A lot of the game’s status was pinned to the fact that Napoli was going to go through even more of a rigorous testing plan than they already have in place, with the results of those tests being what ultimately allows the biggest game of the 2020-21 season to date to go forward.
Napoli has already seen one player, Piotr Zielinski, and a staff member come back with a positive test. (Zielinski had a goal and an assist in Napoli’s 6-0 win over Genoa last Sunday.) And it’s because of that positive test — and possibly more on the one in the next 24 hours or so — Napoli is thinking twice about going through with their trip to Turin this weekend.
According to Corriere dello Sport, Napoli owner Aurelio De Laurentiis phoned Juventus President Andrea Agnelli on Friday to discuss the possibility of postponing Sunday night’s match at Allianz Stadium between the two clubs. While Napoli are set to go through another round of COVID-19 testing during the day Saturday before potentially departing for Turin, De Laurentiis voiced his concern that even the most recent test results could put Juventus players and staff at risk of contracting the virus.
As of this writing, the Juventus-Napoli match is still on and set to kickoff at 8:45 p.m. local time in Turin.
The catch in all of this is the schedule is already bereft a lot of the usual flexibility when it comes to room to make up matches for the simple fact of the 2020-21 season starting a month later than it usually does. The holiday break is already shorter than it usually, with Juventus set to play seven games between Serie A and the Champions League in the first three weeks of December before Christmas. Juve then have six games set for January, with another one to be added in the near future once there’s a Coppa Italia opponent is known.
That’s on top of the fact the schedule in October and November is already set with the Champions League group stage draw happening earlier in the week.
The main thing in all of this is to protect the players from the virus. If the best course of action is to postpone it, then that’s what they need to do. Serie A already has an outbreak at one club, and the last thing they need is for another cluster to happen right as players get set to go out on international duty after this weekend’s schedule of games.