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Juventus-Napoli, a chess game between two specular teams
The 12th matchday offers a beautiful encounter between the two most precise and dangerous teams of Serie A
by Federico Formica
According to all the summer predictions, Juventus-Napoli should have been the most decisive match for the Italian title. Roma's incredible winning streak changed the circumstances: the two main candidates to the title are not at the top of the table, but the sunday night's game is still a turning point for the Serie A 2013-2014.

If we exclude the Champions League, where Juventus is having huge problems while Napoli is on fire, the teams have had the same path so far with 9 wins, one draw and one defeat. Even the balance of the goals scored and conceded is very similar: 24/8 for Napoli; 23/10 for Juventus. The Bianconeri have the undeniable advantage to play in front of their supporters: Juventus Stadium is an English-style facility and it's pretty much always sold out, which never happened in the old and awful Delle Alpi stadium.

Who's out, who's down. With Mirko Vučinić, Simone Pepe and Stephan Lichtsteiner still injured, Antonio Conte counts on the beautiful form of Paul Pogba and Carlos Tevez, who could be supported by Fabio Quagliarella. The pace and technical skills of the Italian could get Napoli's defenders into trouble, even more than the Spaniard Fernando Llorente did. The defence is settling on last year's standard. The defensive line Barzagli-Bonucci-Chiellini is significantly trustier now than in the first weeks of this season.

Napoli has finally recovered their main attacking player, the Argentinian Gonzalo Higuaín has scored a double last Wednesday against Marseille and he's a fundamental point of reference for all his team-mates, not only in finalizing the plays but with precise assists as well. Rafa Benitez has an embarassing choice in the midfield-attacking zone: José Maria Callejon, Marek Hamšík, Lorenzo Insigne and Dries Mertens are living a shining moment.

Camilo Zuniga and Miguel Angel Britos are out, so Rafa Benitez will have to reinvent the defense and could need Paolo Cannavaro, which has been largely disappointing so far.

A specular game. One of the most important aspects of Juventus-Napoli is the strongly similar playing style. Conte and Benitez prefer to control the match (Juve and Napoli are respectively second and fourth in the ball-possession ranking and first/fourth in the passes ranking).

But, above all, Juventus-Napoli is a game between the two most precise teams of Serie A, both shooting and passing the ball. The Bianconeri and the azzurri easily create dangerous situations, one with Andrea Pirlo, Arturo Vidal and Paul Pogba, the other with Lorenzo Insigne and Marek Hamšík. Although the center-back Leonardo Bonucci has made three winning assists so far. A very good harvest for a defensive player.

With such premises, is hard to think that Juve-Napoli will be a boring game. The offensive weaponry are impressive from both sides, both the teams know that a defeat could mean eight points less than Roma. Not a pleasing scenario for two winning coaches as Antonio Conte and Rafa Benitez.

Thanks to our reviewer Lorenzo Franceschi Bicchierai

Friday, November 8 th, 2013
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