Juventus can take another step toward their ninth consecutive championship of Italy on Sunday, with a defeat of struggling SSC Napoli that could separate “The Old Lady” from the Serie A pack. The defending Scudetto holders have spent more than half of the season locked in a battle for the top spot in the Italian top flight with Inter Milan. But the Nerazzurri have been held to 1-1 draws in their last two league matches, while Juve have won five in a row since an away loss to third-place SS Lazio on December 7.
Though SSC Napoli came out on the losing end in the two clubs’ initial meeting way back on August 31, the match has proven to be a high point of a sluggish season for the Naples side, which sits in 13th position on the table with only six wins and 24 points entering the 21st round of Serie A play.
The Parthenopeans came roaring back from a 3-0 deficit, according to Soccerway, to level the score thanks to two goals in two minutes by Konstantinos Manolas and Hirving “Chucky” Lozano. Giovanni Di Lorenzo nailed the equalizer — his first and still only goal of the Serie A season — in the 81st minute.
But an unfortunate own goal in injury time by Kalidou Koulibaly sealed Napoli’s fate and gave Juventus the win.
Watch a preview of the Sunday SSC Napoli vs. Juventus match in the video below.
With Napoli undergoing a change of managers, bringing in former AC Milan boss Gennaro Gattuso to replace Carlo Ancelotti on December 11, and yet failing to reverse their fortunes with defeats in four of Gattuso’s first seven matches, the defending champions not surprisingly come in as heavy favorites, despite playing on the road. Oddsmakers have installed Juve at almost even-money, with odds of 21/20, while the odds of Napoli winning the match are at 5/2. The odds of the match ending in a draw have been set at 13-5, according to those published by 101 Great Goals.
Juventus has beaten Napoli in their last three encounters, according to Sporting Pedia, and Juve has been held to a clean sheet only twice in their last 17 trips to Stadio San Paolo in Naples.
Despite three straight losses in Serie A, Napoli have managed to provide some relief for their fans in the Coppa Italia, where on Tuesday they sent Lazio out of the competition with a hard-fought 1-0 win, making a second-minute goal by Lorenzo Insigne hold up until the final whistle.
The SSC Napoli vs. Juventus Serie A showdown kicks off at 8:45 p.m. Central European Time in Napoli on Sunday. In the United States, that start time will be 2:45 p.m. EST, 11:45 p.m. PST, and will be carried only via a live online stream provided by the ESPN+ sports subscription service.