Napoli v Juventus Betting Predictions | Back Juventus at 9/2 with Paddy PowerPublished March 29, 2017
There are a lot of games in Italy that stoke up the fires of rivalry, but this is one which is perhaps not known so well to the wider world. But you need only look at the reaction of Gonzalo Higuain’s summer switch from Napoli to Juventus. The atmosphere will be hostile at the Stadio San Paolo, and although they are already well clear in the Serie A title race, it will be a huge test of Juve’s mettle.
But we think they will pass it, by the odd goal, in a thrilling encounter.
Napoli have completely reinvented their forward line since Higuain left, partly through no choice of their own. The Argentine’s replacement, Arkadiusz Milik, was struck down by a serious knee injury, which paved the way for Dries Mertens to be converted from a winger into a central striker. It is a transition that has served the Belgian well, and he has scored 20 goals in the league this term.
But the hosts are potent in more ways than just through Mertens. The 29-year-old plays in a false nine role, which creates space for talisman Marek Hamsik to run in behind. Out wide, Lorenzo Insigne and Jose Callejon also profit, and when they tuck in, fullbacks Faouzi Ghoulam and Elseid Hysaj can join the attack.
Juve will find space on the counter attack, and in Miralem Pjanic they have the perfect reference point. When given space, the Bosnian can be deadly, and he will link up perfectly with Paulo Dybala, who will drift in from wide and join Higuain up front.
They will always have a man over because of their use of wingbacks. Alex Sandro will stay wide on the left to ensure this, meaning Napoli’s deep central midfielders will have their work cut out closing down the space.
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But this system also gives Juve the upper hand defensively, too. Between the three central defenders and wing-backs, there will be very little space for manoeuvre for Napoli’s trident up front.
It makes the most sense for Juve coach Max Allegri to play on the counter attack from the start. They have the discipline to deal with Napoli, just as Atalanta did in their 2-0 away win a few weeks ago, and that should secure the win in this one.