MX23RW : Tuesday, April 13 19:41:25| >> :600:342071:342071:
Feb 13, 2021 at 5pm UK at Stadio San Paolo
NapoliNapoli
1-0
JuventusJuventus
Insigne (31' pen.)
Di Lorenzo (23'), Bakayoko (56')
FT(HT: 1-0)

Chiellini (30'), Cuadrado (45'), Rabiot (90+2')

Preview: Napoli vs. Juventus - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Saturday's Serie A clash between Napoli and Juventus, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Amid a period of failing form, Napoli finally meet champions Juventus in Serie A this Saturday, at Stadio Diego Maradona.

After their first league meeting of the season was postponed in controversial circumstances, the old rivals now clash for the second time in a matter of weeks, following Juve's Supercoppa Italiana triumph last month.


Match preview

Cristiano Ronaldo pictured in February 2021© Reuters

Mirroring the ascendant form of talismanic top scorer Cristiano Ronaldo, Juventus have certainly clicked into top gear in 2021, as they seek to defend the Scudetto and post a tenth consecutive title success.

Defeat to Inter last month has proved to be the only loss they have suffered since the turn of the year, during a fixture-packed run featuring league, cup and Supercoppa success - a streak that has elevated them to third in the Serie A standings, just five points behind second-placed Inter, with a game still in hand.

In January, Juventus managed to turn over Milan, Napoli and Inter - among several others - also keeping clean sheets in all five league matches since losing at San Siro. Their latest victims in the top flight were close contenders Roma, who they leapfrogged in the league table last weekend, as a result of a comfortable 2-0 victory in Turin - the highlight of which was Ronaldo's imperious left-footed opening strike.

Swiftly followed by a successful midweek conclusion to their Derby d'Italia semi-final tie in the Coppa Italia - where a goalless draw saw them progress to meet Atalanta in May's final - the immediate future for Andrea Pirlo's side looks bright.

While Ronaldo continues to top the goalscoring rankings and others such as Federico Chiesa, Alvaro Morata and Weston McKennie chip in supporting contributions, the Bianconeri have rarely been concerned about where their next goal will come from. They have, though, significantly tightened their defence too, with a run of six shut-outs in their seven most recent games paying testament to that improvement.

Not in peak form, but still posing a potent threat to any backline, Napoli's attack will be the latest to tackle the challenge of breaking through an increasingly resilient rearguard.

Napoli's Victor Osimhen reacts on January 24, 2021© Reuters

Pressure continues to mount on coach Gennaro Gattuso ahead of the Old Lady's arrival in Campania, as Napoli struggled badly in the first half of their cup semi-final defeat to Atalanta on Wednesday. Despite a return to the starting XI for major summer signing Victor Osimhen - whose misfortune and misadventures have plagued his debut Calcio campaign - the Partenopei were unable to recover from going two goals down within 16 minutes.

That anti-climactic end to their Coppa Italia defence came just days after a dispiriting loss at Genoa in the league, a result which leaves Gattuso's team adrift of the top four and totally out of the Scudetto race.

The continuing battle between manager Gattuso and club president Aurelio De Laurentiis surely only has one 'winner' now, after Napoli's temperamental custodian was reportedly furious following their latest pair of defeats.

Upcoming games against Atalanta and then Granada in the Europa League - following this crunch clash with Juventus - are apparently set to be decisive for the future of the tempestuous coach, as candidates such as Rafa Benitez and Max Allegri wait in the wings.

With defensive options limited by injuries to key players this week, Napoli have a considerable task in keeping out their visitors' revered attacking talents and will again lean heavily on Hirving Lozano and Lorenzo Insigne to weigh in with goals at the other end.

While fellow forwards such as Osimhen, Andrea Petagna and the injury-stricken Dries Mertens have proved unreliable this term, the diminutive duo are the team's joint top scorers with nine goals apiece and will be integral to Gattuso's hopes of saving the Azzurri's season - and his job.

Napoli Serie A form: LWWLWL
Napoli form (all competitions): LWWDLL

Juventus Serie A form: WWLWWW
Juventus form (all competitions): WWWWWD


Team News

Napoli manager Gennaro Gattuso pictured on January 24, 2021© Reuters

Napoli are expected to be without injured pair Elseid Hysaj and Diego Demme on Saturday, after the Albanian full-back injured his left leg in midweek and Demme picked up a thigh problem which will be assessed again ahead of kickoff.

As Gennaro Gattuso's centre-back mainstay Kalidou Koulibaly is absent due to COVID-19, back-up defensive pair Amir Rrahmani and Nikola Maksimovic must continue to start despite error-strewn performances of late, given that Kostas Manolas is also out of action until the end of the month.

Fabian Ruiz has returned from quarantine but might not yet be fit to start, so Tiemoue Bakayoko could be joined by Piotr Zielinski in midfield, while Victor Osimhen should keep the central striking berth ahead of Andrea Petagna.

Juventus coach Andrea Pirlo will reportedly not risk rushing Leonardo Bonucci back into action this weekend, after the stalwart centre-back missed out on Coppa Italia duty because of muscle fatigue - a luxury afforded to the Bianconeri, as they have Giorgio Chiellini, Matthijs de Ligt and Merih Demiral all fit and available to replace him.

Though Arthur will be absent again due to injury, Rodrigo Bentancur returns in midfield after being suspended last weekend. Versatile forward Dejan Kulusevski is expected to drop out from the cup XI, to be replaced by Alvaro Morata, with goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon also returning to the sidelines as Wojciech Szczesny comes back in to the side.

Napoli possible starting lineup:
Ospina; Di Lorenzo, Maksimovic, Rrahmani, Rui; Zielinski, Bakayoko; Lozano, Insigne, Politano; Osimhen

Juventus possible starting lineup:
Szczesny; Cuadrado, De Ligt, Chiellini, Alex Sandro; Chiesa, Rabiot, Bentancur, McKennie; Morata, Ronaldo


SM words green background

We say: Napoli 1-2 Juventus

With the scent of the Scudetto wafting nearer and nearer for in-form Juventus, there is little to suggest they cannot take advantage of their hosts' defensive woes, further widening a gap between the clubs which was non-existent only a few short weeks ago.

Pace and power out wide and penalty-box cunning through the centre should terrify Napoli's makeshift defence, with their talented forwards left with too much to do to make up the deficit.


Top betting tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting over 1.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Over 1.5:data


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Juventus and Turkey defender Merih Demiral pictured on international duty in November 2019
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Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Inter Milan30235269274274
2AC Milan30196557352263
3Juventus30188461273462
4Atalanta BCAtalanta30187571383361
5Napoli30192965343159
6Lazio2917484638855
7Roma30166854441054
8SassuoloSassuolo30111094948143
9Hellas VeronaHellas Verona30118113835341
10Sampdoria30106143945-636
11Bologna3097143946-734
12Udinese3089133240-833
13Genoa30711123244-1232
14SpeziaSpezia3088144055-1532
15Fiorentina3079143849-1130
16BeneventoBenevento3079143055-2530
17Torino29512124252-1027
18CagliariCagliari3057183151-2022
19Parma30311162959-3020
20Crotone3043233777-4015

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