The two games Juventus has played against Napoli this season have been about as opposite of performances as one could think. The first one, a wild 4-3 win in Turin in the second week of the season, showed early signs of what Juventus could be like (if the defense didn’t fall apart in the second half). The most recent one, a 2-1 loss at the San Paolo in January, showed the perfect recipe of how to beat Maurizio Sarri’s possession-oriented side.
Tonight, with the Coppa Italia on the line, we get the rubber match.
And with it comes the chance for Juventus to show us a little more than what we saw a few days back when things started out so well against Milan and then tapered off rather quickly.
This will be one of Juventus’ toughest games over the course of the next month before the showdown with Lazio on July 20. This is, albeit very early on in the post-shutdown world we currently find ourselves in, a very good barometer for Sarri to see where his squad actually stands and what needs to happen to prevent a third ass kicking at the hand of Simone Inzaghi.
It’s clear which one of the two Coppa Italia finalists played the better game in their respective returns to the field last week. And I think we can all say that said team that played wasn’t Juventus. Or, I should say, the team that had the complete game wasn’t Juventus. That’s because Juve were good for the opening 20 minutes, but Napoli was good for a large portion of its 2-1 win over Inter. (Translation: Juve was good for a little bit, Napoli was good for a lot more than just that.)
Sarri isn’t expected to make major changes from the side that edged out Milan in Friday night’s semifinal. There could be a Sami Khedira start here, maybe another couple of different names in the starting lineup, but other than that it should very much be the same kind of starting squad that ran out there a few days back.
That could prove to be a good thing.
Or, it could prove to be the thing that is the opposite of good and sees Juve fail to secure its first trophy of this jam-packed restart this summer. We’ll see what happens — and hopefully have a little bit of fun along the way, too.
When: Wednesday, June 17, 2020
Where: Stadio Olimpico, Rome, Italy
Official kickoff time: 9 p.m. local time in Italy and across Europe; 8 p.m. in the United Kingdom; 3 p.m. Eastern Time; 12 p.m. Pacific Time
Juventus starting XI (4-3-3): Buffon; Cuadrado, de Ligt, Bonucci, Alex Sandro; Bentancur, Pjanic, Matuidi; Dybala, Ronaldo, Douglas Costa
Juventus bench: Szczesny, Pinsoglio, De Sciglio, Danilo, Rugani, Ramsey, Rabiot, Muratore, Bernardeschi, Olivieri, Vrioni, Zanimacchia
Napoli starting XI (4-3-3): Meret; Di Lorenzo, Maksimovic, Koulibaly, Mario Rui; Fabian Ruiz, Demme, Zielinski; Callejon, Mertens, Insigne
Napoli bench: Karnezis, Luperto, Hysaj, Ghoulam, Manolas, Allan, Elmas, Llorente, Lozano, Politano, Younes, Milik
HOW TO WATCH
Television: ESPN, ESPN Deportes, RAI Italia North America (United States); RAI Italia North America (Canada); BT Sport 2 (United Kingdom); RAI Uno (Italy)
Online/mobile: ESPN+, WatchESPN, ESPN Deportes+ (United States); FloSports (Canada); BTSport.com, BT Sport app (United Kingdom); RAI Play (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.