Saturday January 20 2018
Gasp: 'Napoli-Juve to the end'

Gian Piero Gasperini thinks this is the right year for Napoli to win the Scudetto and finish ahead of Juventus, but his Atalanta can change that.

It kicks off on Sunday at 11.30 GMT, click here for a match preview.

The Orobici are something of a taboo for Maurizio Sarri, having won three of their last four meetings between Serie A and the Coppa Italia.

“It’ll be tough, as we must do really well to wipe the recent positive results against Napoli from our memory. It’d be a huge mistake to take anything for granted,” warned Gasp in the Corriere dello Sport newspaper.

“Every encounter with Sarri’s side is difficult and we need a great performance. I am convinced we’ll do our best and not fall into the trap of being presumptuous. It’s fundamental for us to show maturity and improve our position if we want to fight for a top six finish.”

Even before Sarri took charge of Napoli, Gasperini had a run of four consecutive victories against the Partenopei from 2007 to 2009.

“It’s difficult to explain why that is. I have good memories of facing Napoli, including when I was in Serie B at Genoa. I hope the Neapolitan fans don’t hate me too much…

“I enjoy facing Napoli when they are at full strength, because that will improve the entertainment level. It’s too easy to praise players like Lorenzo Insigne, Dries Mertens or Marek Hamsik, but Piotr Zielinski changed the game earlier this season, so Napoli are strong overall.

“In a certain way, Napoli play the best football in Italy, as they are beautiful to watch and at times in the season scored many goals. Perhaps something changed after the Champions League exit, but I’m still always happy to see Napoli play on TV. Other matches, I’m less inclined to enjoy…”

Although Sarri has a certain style of football, Juventus are only one point behind and Gasperini sees a real Scudetto battle.

“It’ll be a head-to-head until the end with Juve, who are like a machine and never give up. If Napoli didn’t get the title this year either, it’d be a real blow. I actually thought they could win it two years ago, when they had Gonzalo Higuain, but perhaps they didn’t believe in themselves enough.

“These are two very different teams at the top. Napoli have pace, technique and play beautiful football. Juve have strength, solidity and a winning mentality that is hard to come by.” 

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