INTRODUCTION

Napoli will host Juventus this weekend in yet another exciting Serie A clash this month on Matchday 22. Juventus stand 3rd on the table with 42 points in 20 games. Napoli stands at the 6th spot, having scored 37 points in 20 games. The Serie A title race has been very neck to neck as none of the teams have been very dominating and consistent. AC Milan and Inter Milan are currently leading the race with the top 2 spots. Important game for both sides to compete for the title.            

After a weak start to the season, Juventus have started building back and currently hold a 7 game streak without a loss across all competitions. Andrea Pirlo’s men are looking strong contenders for the title. While Napoli is hoping to bounce back after 2 consecutive losses and a total of 7 losses in Serie A. Gennaro Gattuso, who joined just last season, is trying to save his job after being knocked out of the Coppa Italia in the semi-finals and Supercoppa in the finals.

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Build up

Napoli

Gattuso has an embarrassment of midfield riches at his disposal, but Piotr Zielinski is arguably his most important player in the middle third. The 26-year-old Poland international has racked up more minutes in Serie A than any other Napoli midfielder this season (1221) and will be key if the hosts are going to pull off a shock result against the reigning champions. Zielinski’s industry should do most of the heavy lifting, putting in the hard yards, so the more creative Hirving Lozano and Lorenzo Insigne can focus solely on their attacking duties and ask questions of Juve’s backline.

Gattuso (Napoli)
Gattuso (Napoli)

Juventus

Although Pirlo’s side is very much in a transition period under the inexperienced coach, he has so far ticked one crucial box in his tenure: foresight in the transfer window. The triple loan swoop of Federico Chiesa, Alvaro Morata, and Weston McKennie has proven a masterstroke by Pirlo, with the trident collectively acclimatizing fluidly to Pirlo’s system and assimilating his ideas. Juan Cuadrado has been fantastic after recovering from covid-19. He’s been the key for wide attacks.

Serie A 2020/21 recent form:

Napoli: LWLWW

Juventus: WWWLW

PREVIOUS RESULTS

Napoli will enter this contest after two defeats, against Genoa in Serie A and against Atlanta in the Coppa Italia semi-final. Without Kostas Manolas and Kalidou Kaulibaly, their defense has struggled. Insigne and Hirving Lozano have been their key attackers having scored 9 goals each.

Andrea Pirlo
Andrea Pirlo

Juventus will enter this contest with more confidence with an undefeated run of 7 matches in all competitions. These 7 matches also include Supercoppa’s final victory, reaching Copa Italia’s finals after defeating Inter Milan and 3 successive Serie A wins. Cristiano Ronaldo has been their key player having scored 16 goals in 17 Serie A games this season. He also the Serie A leading goal scorer of the season so far. Another important player for Juventus has been Giorgio Chiellini. Despite his injury issues he has defended pretty well whenever he has played.

 PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER

The previous match between Napoli and Juventus was a Super Cup (Supercoppa) final. Juventus won the match by 2 goals to 0, lifting yet another trophy. Ronaldo and Alvaro Morata were the 2 goal scorers for Juventus. Insigne missed a penalty at 80′. Juventus right-back Juan Cuadrado won the player of the match award for an assist and a brilliant 96% pass success rate.

TEAM NEWS AND PREDICTED LINE UPS

JUVENTUS

The Bianconeri look quite settled with Cristiano Ronaldo and Alvaro Morata up front. Paulo Dybala has suffered from a knee injury and his availability hasn’t been confirmed yet. Bentancur and Arthur Melo are set to play in the Midfeild alongside Federico Chiesa and Weston McKennie. We can see the likes of the Italian center-back duo Leonardo Bonucci and Georgio Chiellini on the defensive end alongside Juan Cuadrado as right back and Danilo as left-back. Wojciech Szczesny with the gloves.

Napoli

Naples has an injury crisis ongoing, many of their main players are injured. they are missing players like Manolas, Koulibaly Mertens. Thus for them, Ospina will start in goal. In defense, they have only 4 fit defenders. Thus Rui and Di Lorenzo will be their fullbacks while Maksimovic and Amir Rrahmani will be their center-back pairing. in midfield, Bakayoko who has been consistent will start along with Zielinski and Demme. also, Fabian Ruiz will be in contention for a spot in starting 11. Lozano and Insigne are definitely going to start in attack. for that third and final spot, there can be a toss-up between Victor Osimhen and Matteo Politano.

KEY PLAYERS

Cristiano Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo

The current top scorer of the competition will look forward to repeating his heroics. In the previous encounter between the two teams, he was splendid and should shine as usual again. He is expected to polish his scoring boots once again. When his side faces Roma this weekend and maintains a healthy gap between second-placed Lukaku and him. He is a definite nightmare for defenders, the superstar has taken himself to the greatest level from playing in the streets of Madeira to relieving his dream and demolishing oppositions with ease.

Federico Chiesa

Federico Chiesa

The former, in particular, is living up to his father’s name(Enrico) and is shining alongside Cristiano Ronaldo. Federico Chiesa has scored 6 goals in Serie A this season being the 2nd highest scorer for Juventus right behind Cristiano Ronaldo and has provided 4 assists, 3rd highest assists for Juve this season. The 23-year-old Italian will have a great impact on the game.

Lorenze Insigne

The Italian Left Winger has had a brilliant season having scored 9 goals and provided 3 assists in 16 games started. He also has an excellent 85% pass success rate and has 29 dribbles this season.  If Napoli wants to win, then Insigne has to be at his best.

Lorenze Insigne

Conclusion and Prediction

It will be a tight game and possibly be won in midfield. Both the teams will be looking to strengthen their position in the top 4. However, Juventus go in as favorites as Napoli will be missing the services of Martens, Manolas, and Coulibaly. Here at Ball That Matters, we predict 2-1 in the favour of Juventus with Ronaldo on the scoresheet.

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