On Saturday night Napoli will arrive in Turin for the biggest game of their season. The fixture, a battle of north vs. south, has always been one to catch the eye but this year the stakes are higher than ever with Napoli posing a serious threat to Juventus’ stronghold on the division. Juventus claimed a pair of 3-1 victories over the Partenopei last season but it was Napoli who ran out 2-1 winners last September.
On only a handful of occasions have Napoli failed to impress this season. Much has been written about the goal-scoring exploits of Gonzalo Higuaín and his scintillating form looks to have sewn up the Serie A golden boot. Should Higuaín falter, Napoli’s attack is reinforced by Lorenzo Insigne, quickly becoming one of the most talented players in Europe. At his best he combines Coutinho-esque trickery with a willingness to get beyond defenders and find the back of the net. He’s not bad at free-kicks either; his latest success a crisp strike vs. Empoli.
Napoli’s form, 8 wins from 8, actually pales in comparison to a rampant Juventus, currently boasting a perfect record in their last 14. The defending champions had started the season sluggishly returning just 1 win from their opening 6. A defeat to Sassuolo at the end of October left them 12th and both Napoli and Roberto Mancini’s Inter were revelling in anticipation. Juventus’ response has been frightening, notching up 14 straight wins in commanding fashion. They’ve conceded just one league goal in 2016.
Napoli soldiered on and had reached the 50-goal mark by the end of January. In recent weeks the two clubs have engaged in a game of ‘one-upmanship’, most obvious when Napoli thumped Empoli 5-1 and Juve marched to a 4-0 win over Chievo. Both had tougher times last weekend, staring in the face of disappointing 0-0s with half an hour to play. Fifteen minutes later Higuaín had given Napoli the lead whilst across the regional border Juan Cuadrado sent Juve ahead at Frosinone.
In this current era you are just as likely to see a 4-2 in Serie A as a cagey 0-0, but I don’t see there being too many goals on Saturday night. Juventus relish big games and swept aside nine-man Roma in a comparable tie in the 2014 campaign. Maurizio Sarri’s Napoli side pose a different challenge, however, and will arrive with little fear. A single goal could decide the match with 1-0 to Juventus priced at 6/1 and the reverse scoreline as big as 9/1 on the Betfect site.
The following evening we see third take on fourth with Fiorentina vs. Inter. Neither side are in great form but I can’t see Inter’s slump ending at the Stadio Artemio Franchi. Fiorentina are 5/4 to win, boosted to a huge 15/4 at a -1 handicap.
Torino travel to Sicily to face Palermo with both teams struggling for wins. The draw is priced at 11/5 whilst a Palermo + BTTS result offers value at 5/1.
The Friday game sees Roma go to Carpi and last year’s runners-up look great value at 17/20.
For a safer bet, find Milan at 4/6 to win at home to Genoa.
Goals Treble @ 4.97/1
Empoli vs Frosinone – Over 2.5 Goals – 8/11
Milan vs Genoa – Over 2.5 Goals – 1/1
Juventus vs Napoli – Under 2.5 Goals – 8/11
Odds correct as of 11/02/16