The spotlights are on. Every eyeball will be turned to the pitch. Napoli are first, Juventus are second, and the gap is close enough that that can change in a hurry. All the marbles are on the line, and the pressure has never been higher since Maurizio Sarri took charge of Napoli.
On Saturday evening in Turin, Italy, Napoli will enter the Juventus Stadium to play, you guessed it, Juventus. There is so much on the line in this match that the nerves have been building for days. Both sides have been playing the importance of this match down over the last few days, but the simple fact is this: this match could and very likely will prove decisive come the end of the season.
That makes this an absolute must-win match. Yes, most matches are must-win when you stop and think about it, but on a must-win scale of one to ten, this one rates about a seventeen. Seventeen billion. That's a lot of must-win.
Fortunately for Napoli, they're healthy and have all hands on deck. The only injury is to Alberto Grassi, and you can't miss a player who hasn't suited up yet. No one is suspended, though Raul Albiol will miss a match if he picks up a yellow. That's a secondary concern right now, so let's not worry about it.
Juventus are much more battered. Giorgio Chiellini is out, Martin Caceres is out, Mario Mandzukuc is out, Mario Lemina is out, and Kwadwoh Asamoah is out. Sami Khedira is a strong doubt and will have to pass a last-minute fitness check to play. A few others, including Patrice Evra, are dinged up and won't be playing at 100%. If Napoli have any concrete advantage, it's that they're healthy, and Juventus are not.
That does not, however, change the fact that this is going to be an extremely tough match. Napoli are going to have to fight like bastards to get the win in this game. We know they have that kind of fight in them, the question is how good their fight winds up being compared to the fight Juventus put up.
Projected Lineups Sure To Be Wrong
Juventus: Gianluigi Buffon; Stephan Lichtsteiner, Andrea Barzagli, Leonardo Bonucci, Patrice Evra; Juan Cuadrado, Stefano Sturaro, Claudio Marchisio, Paul Pogba; Paulo Dybala, Álvaro Morata
Napoli: Pepe Reina; Elseid Hysaj, Raul Albiol, Kalidou Koulibaly, Faouzi Ghoulam; Allan, Jorginho, Marek Hamsik; Jose Callejon, Gonzalo Higuain, Lorenzo Insigne
At A Glance
Juventus: 2nd; 17W 3D 4L; League Form: WWWWW
Napoli: 1st; 17W 5D 2L; League Form: WWWWW
Reverse Fixture: Napoli 2-1 Juventus
Napoli took the game to Juventus, scoring a goal in each half with the opportunity to score plenty more. While the final score was close and Juventus fans crow about that now, the reality is that they scored on their best chance of the match, and it took Napoli's defense falling asleep to give them that chance. Outside of that, Napoli really didn't give them much of a chance to score and controlled the majority of the game. That was a huge win, a decisive one, and it propelled Napoli to their run to the top of Serie A. That doesn't suck. At all.
TV: beIN Sports (U.S.), Sky Calcio 1, Sky Sports 1 HD Italia (Italy), BT Sport Europe (U.K.), RAI International
Online: Fubo TV, beIN Sports Connect (U.S.), Sky Go Italia (Italy), BT Sport Live Streaming (U.K.)
Other live viewing options can be found here, and as always, we'll have a match thread live here for discussion of the game at hand. You can also follow along with us live on Twitter, and we'll have updates of the most important events on our Facebook page, which you should definitely like.