This match has been postponed due to heavy rain.

What: Italian Serie A
Who: Napoli vs Juventus
When: Sunday 6th November, 2011, at 19:45 UK time
Where: San Paolo, Naples, Italy

Hard Times

One of the Scudetto favourites this season, Napoli prepare to welcome league leaders Juventus in the standout fixture of this weekend’s games in Italy. Both teams have a huge chance of ending the campaign with the 2011/12 trophy and their clash here will be a sneak preview of how strong these contenders are and how the season might unravel in the boot-shaped country.

It is safe to say that these times have not been the Partenopei’s best ever. As a matter of fact, ever since the team’s impressive away win at the San Siro over Inter on 1st October, Walter Mazzarri’s side have only managed a single win in six fixtures, with their latest setback being the 3-2 defeat to Bayern Munich in the Champions League in midweek.

But despite the loss, Napoli did not drop their heads even at 3-0 down, and mounted an impressive, if fruitless, comeback, which Mazzarri was pleased to see.

“I’m happy with our performance”, said the Italian. “We had a few moments of naivety and paid for them, as Bayern took all their chances and we didn’t. Our second half was perfect as we forced such a strong team to defend even when we went down to 10 men. I don’t know what more I could have asked for."

Perfect Chance

Juventus continued their fine form with a win over bitter foes Inter last weekend, rubbing salt in the wounds of the Nerazzurri and consolidating their lead at the top of the Serie A standings. The Bianconeri sit ahead of other potential Scudetto candidates such as AC Milan and Napoli, the latter of which will pose a tough test for Antonio Conte’s side after dismantling both Milanese teams.

The win over Inter worked wonders for the Juventus camp, prompting praise from across the country. Former team legend and current director Pavel Nedved lauded his side’s recent efforts, while stressing that they can mount a legitimate title push: “I am not surprised that Juve are at the top of the table. This season has turned out to be great for us thus far and we will not be stopping here", declared the former Czech Republic midfielder.

Facing Napoli now comes at the perfect time for La Vecchia Signora. With Napoli missing key players, a win at the San Paolo would send the ideal message to the hosts as well as other title suitors. However, Napoli have slain their fair share of giants so far, and the match will certainly not be a walk in the park for the Bianconeri.  

Recent form

Napoli 2-0 Udinese (26/10; Serie A)
Catania 2-1 Napoli (29/10; Serie A)
Bayern Munich 3-2 Napoli
(02/11; Champions League)

Juventus 2-2 Genoa (22/10; Serie A)
Juventus 2-1 Fiorentina
(25/10; Serie A)
Inter 1-2 Juventus (29/10; Serie A)

Key absences

Napoli: Walter Gargano; Marco Donadel; Miguel Britos; Mario Santana (suspended)

Juventus: Emanuele Giaccherini (doubt); Stephan Lichtsteiner (doubt)

Players to watch

Napoli – Edinson Cavani: The Uruguay superstar was quiet in the game against Bayern Munich. Against Juventus, he will spearhead the attack as his team seek to inflict their first defeat of the campaign upon their visitors.

Juventus – Claudio Marchisio: The midfielder is building a fan club at Juventus, being the hero on the night against AC Milan in the Turin side’s victory earlier this season. An indispensable member of the starting line-up, Marchisio will need to be at his absolute best should the Bianconeri want to pull off an important away win.

Match Prediction

Should Napoli go into the match in the same manner as they did against Bayern, then it is indeed likely that they will lose this bout. Juventus have shown themselves to be very deadly this season, but thankfully for Mazzarri, Napoli have got their act together. Expect goals in this game, but the two sides will ultimately settle for the draw.

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