A pivotal weekend in the race for Champions League places in Serie A kicks off early Saturday evening as Juventus welcome fourth placed Napoli to the J Stadium in Turin. To recap, AS Roma currently sit in second place in the table, one point ahead of Lazio who they meet on Monday evening in a huge game in the capital. Napoli meanwhile, are four points behind I Giallorossi and three behind Lazio going into the final two league fixtures of the season. On the final weekend IBiancocelesti visit the San Paolo in what could be a “winner takes all” scenario.
Before all that, the southern Italian side must take something from Turin on Saturday as defeat would see their dreams of Champions League football evaporate. The match has already courted controversy with Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis unhappy that this game is not being played simultaneously with the Rome derby, arguing that the capital clubs have an unfair advantage as they will know exactly what they have to do when they square up on Monday evening.
I Vesuviani will hope that Wednesday evening’s extra time Coppa Italia win against Lazio will have taken its toll on Juventus and with the Champions League final on the horizon and the league title already taken care of, Napoli will also be hoping to face an under strength opponent. That said, the rivalry between these two heavyweights is intense and nothing would give The Old Lady more satisfaction than de-railing Napoli’s quest to be in Europe’s premier cup competition next season.
The Italian press are already targeting striker Gonzalo Higuain as the key man for Napoli. The ace marksman has 16 league goals this season and is just one behind his final tally for the last campaign but the Argentinean international has failed to find the net in his last four matches in all competitions.GökhanInler looks set to replace Jorginho in the midfield anchor role for Napoli and coach Rafael Benitez could spring a surprise by bringing in Belgian international Dries Mertens as replacement for Marek Hamšík in a three man support team for Higuain which should also include Lorenzo Insigne and JoséCallejón
It will be turnover time for Juventus on Saturday. Serie A’s top scorer Carlos Tévez could be rested as fan favourite Alvaro Morata returns to the side after missing Wednesday’s Coppa Italia victory through suspension with the man whose goal won the cup for I Bianconeri, Alessandro Matri, partnering him.
Andrea Pirlo may drop to the substitute’s bench, his place being taken by Roberto Pereyra and Paul Pogba could also sit this one out with Stefano Sturaro replacing the French international. Marco Storari looks set to retain the goalkeeping jersey and in the centre of defence, Angelo Ogbonna may partner Andrea Barzagli with Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci being given the night off.
Our Probable Formations:
Juventus (4-3-1-2) Storari; Padoin, Barzagli, Ogbonna, De Ceglie; Vidal, Marchisio, Sturaro; Pereyra; Morata, Matri
Napoli(4-2-3-1)Andújar; Ghoulam, Britos, Albiol, Maggio; Inler, David Lopez; Insigne, Mertens,Callejón; Higuain
BY: STEVE MITCHELL