An injury struck Napoli’s side take on Juventus in one of the most hotly anticipated Serie A derbies of this winter. Here are the two side’s predicted line-ups.
Despite enjoying very different campaigns, Juventus and Napoli return from the winter break on Thursday with just two and five points respectively in the Serie A standings.
Fifth-placed Juventus is set to renew its rivalry after winning five of their six previous games in all competitions. However, their Southern counterparts lost three of their five last games – continuing their slide down the table to third.
Napoli has had very few positive developments since their defeat to Inter in November. Inter would eventually win the league and they would be crowned Campioni d’Inverno.
The Partenopei, who had just started the season under new management, was on an inspired run, winning 10 league games before October, which gave them cause to hope for a first Scudetto since decades.
However, Luciano Spalletti’s men were decimated by injuries sustained. This affected an otherwise well-oiled machine that had barely conceded a goal along the way to the top of Serie A. The wheels were beginning to come off when Calcio paused for the festive period.
The setback against Inter was followed quickly by defeats to Atalanta and Empoli. And, most disappointingly, Napoli lost against a Spezia team that had earned only two points in their six previous games.
They did make it to the Europa League, thanks to a dramatic win against Leicester City. Their reward was a glamour tie with fallen giants Barcelona next month. Milan won in a determined performance at San Siro. However, things could have turned worse during the break.
Lorenzo Insigne, the inspirational captain, recently announced his departure. This will be in the summer when he makes the fascinating switch to MLS club FC Toronto. Spalletti was also affected by a COVID-19 epidemic at the club this week.
Napoli, without their coach and possibly eight players absent due to illness or at Africa Nations Cup, must face their bitter rivals – having lost nine of the 10 trips to the Allianz Stadium since its opening.
Juventus: Szczesny; Cuadrado, Rugani, De Ligt, Sandro; Bentancur, Locatelli; Bernardeschi, Dybala, Kean; Morata
Napoli: Ospina; Di Lorenzo, Rrahmani, Jesus, Ghoulam; Demme, Lobotka; Politano, Zielinski, Insigne; Mertens
Napoli takes on Juventus at 20.45 local time at the Allianz Stadium in Turin.