Sunday November 10 2013
Once upon a time in the north

Many believe Juventus-Napoli will hinge on Carlos Tevez and Gonzalo Higuain, but Dave Taylor is not so sure.

The great Italian composer Ennio Morricone will enjoy his birthday this Sunday and may even watch his beloved Roma take on Sassuolo. However, most everyone else will be watching a much more influential game further north between Juventus and Napoli. Certainly one of his films, The Good the Bad and the Ugly can relate to the situation between the three top clubs, but it will take a brave person to define which is which this early in the season.

There is also a lot of pride tied up in today’s Turin tete-a-tete, with Juve goalkeeper Gigi Buffon praising both clubs for their progress since arriving from Serie B just six seasons ago. “The prestige of the tie was lost a bit after the years of Michel Platini and Diego Maradona,” he said. “That returned with the matches in Serie B, where both teams had ended up. Now we find ourselves competing at the top and that is the result of planning.”

Certainly over the last few years the bi-seasonal clashes have been crucial pointers towards who would finish top, with Juventus winning the last three home fixtures between the two sides. On the surface the result slightly favours Juve, who have yet to drop a point at home, scoring 15 and conceding just four. Napoli meanwhile have scored 10 times in five away games, losing just the once.

Yet overall things are as tight as a tide of Zebras squeezed into a FIAT Panda. Currently both sides are deadlocked in second and third on 28 points, with Napoli only above Juve on goal difference. With no midweek games coming up due to the international break, both Coaches will be fielding their strongest teams and with the sides pretty much equal in everything, it’s a tough call.

Both outfits are scoring just over two goals a game, with over 50% of their shots on target, and Napoli slightly ahead in the goals to shot ratio with 19% against Juve’s 15%. Their overall pass completion ratio is the same on 86%, while their pass completion rate in the final third is also identical on 75%. Where Juve do have a better ratio is in the number of crosses: 230 to Napoli’s 173 and their respective success rates of 23% to 17%. With most of the rest of the stats being equal, it will probably need an individual piece of magic to break any deadlock.

In this case the Press believe the balance of the game revolves around the two Argentine strikers, Juve’s Carlos Tevez and Napoli’s Gonzalo Higuain. Is the duel more of a media fancy than an actuality, considering both players have strikingly different characteristics and perform different roles in their respective teams?

Napoli’s system sees Higuain as a sole striker supported by a trio of forwards with Marek Hamsik the consistent choice along with two of Jose Callejon, Lorenzo Insigne, Dries Mertens and Goran Pandev. Whoever is picked, Pipita is blessed with an array of creative types willing to supply him with the ball and who can score themselves.

On the other hand Juve are set up with twin strikers Tevez and one of Sebastian Giovinco, Fabio Quagliarella, Mirko Vucinic or Fernando Llorente. And it is here that Napoli perhaps has the advantage with their attacking trio offering more opportunities for themselves and Higuain to score than Tevez’s trio. Unfortunately for the number 10, his creative players Andrea Pirlo, Arturo Vidal and Paul Pogba play further away from him than Napoli’s triad, which leads to less goal scoring opportunities.

However, despite that Apache has been no slouch, playing in one more game than Higuain and scoring six with two assists compared to Pipita’s five goals and three assists.

Yet the player who puts them both to shame is Hamsik, who proves best value with six goals in 736 minutes, one every 122, plus an assist. Meanwhile Tevez scores one every 147 and Higuain one every 143. So let’s forget the Apache, Pipita and the media projections, as it could well be Marekiaro who makes the difference at the end of the day. 

Keep up to date with the latest news and action from Spain's Primera Division with Football Espana - from the team behind Football Italia.

Have your say...
i said it at the start of the season and ill say it again . napoli and roma are not winning the title this year .
on the 12th November, 2013 at 12:20pm
@Drapes yes there are many refereeing mistakes but why are so many in favour of Juve? Even when you give advantage a referee can still go back and give a yellow and he didn't. That referee and linesman influenced the game from the start with an offside goal. Also so glad the Juve supporters got a wonderful response for the Napoli supporters for all their racist chanting. Just hoping Juve supporters receive just as warmer welcome when they go to Napoli.
on the 11th November, 2013 at 6:50pm
@ALL you Juve supporters…you are as bad as your cheating team. Even the evidence of replays was there for all to see and yet you still don't see it! Some of you probably even believe that your team was not convicted of cheating and juve were never in eerie b!
Invented penalties against toro, maybe one was harsh but not 2. How many offside goals has your team scored this season so far or don't those rules apply to Juve?
on the 11th November, 2013 at 6:40pm
@Dario, why wont Napoli or any Serie A clubs pay the refs themselves? If Juve could pay them pretty sure there's no stopping anyone from doing the same. Oh I forgot, how about Napoli huh? How much they paid the ref for those 2 invented penalties against Toro? Roma as well, how many pens they got till gameday 10, hmm?

Yet better question, how about you small club supporters drop that inferiority complex, victim mentality, and culture of suspicion? I guess you cant, coz you're meant to be losers.
on the 11th November, 2013 at 11:41am
@ Dario

You do realise there are refereeing mistakes in every match of every week in every league in the world, not just mistakes that help Juventus. Last season Juventus lost at Milan, to a penalty awarded for hitting Isla's back, so please stop these ridiculous, unfounded rants about paying referees. Juventus are the best team in Italy and people can't stand it, so they throw mud and think they are clever. If people can't debate intelligently, then they should find something else to do.
on the 11th November, 2013 at 8:48am
Napoli had nothing to offer Sunday, failed to put amy meat on the table.

Juventus out classed Napoli in every area, shame I expected more from Napoli
on the 11th November, 2013 at 7:46am
Dario please. That was not an elbow replys suggest it, 23 CENTIMETERS offside u expect a linesman to get that??!?? And on pirlo a foul the ref Gave advantage, hamsik clipped at Pirlo 3 times in one challenge he deserved a yellow. Higuin was shouldered by bonuci fairly and he also just crashed into Buffon. Insinge dove when ogbonna got near him and as a result got sent off from antics. Shame. Look at ur football unbiasedly please. Juve won 3-0 and dominated Napoli deal with it and grow up
on the 11th November, 2013 at 3:23am
Pointless article. No real opinion given.
on the 11th November, 2013 at 12:06am
Well,it looks like It was a Juventus night,period.Not showing diarespect to Napoli,as they had a good game,as well.But Juventus denied their ambition.
What is more,Juve missed a lot of opportunities,and in such case you either continue to pursue your goal or you get beaten by the other team.Fortunately,the game continued in the right direction. Juventus all the way.
#3:0#Denial#You either win as a team,or you die as individuals#Forza Juve
on the 10th November, 2013 at 11:11pm
I love how you got calcio related to Ennio Morricone and his master pieces.
on the 10th November, 2013 at 10:36pm
How much did Juventus pay the referee and the linesman in that game. An offside goal, a foul committed on Higuain in the area and he was blamed, Armero elbowed in the face by isla, nothing given, Hamsik booked for doing exactly what Pirlo did a few minutes earlier, Pirlo falling over his own feet and given a free kick and then scored. Too many to note. Juve cheaters again!
on the 10th November, 2013 at 10:14pm
Vidal versus Hamsik for me! Best two box to box midfielders in Serie A.
on the 10th November, 2013 at 2:55pm
The Good- Napoli & Roma
The Bad - Juventus
The Ugly - AC Milan
on the 10th November, 2013 at 12:12pm
As a Juve fan hope the other big Clubs, Napoli Milan, Inter, Roma, Lazio and Fioretina uild new 40.000 to 60.000 stadiums like Juve and fill them up. It would benefit Serie A.
on the 10th November, 2013 at 10:33am
I'm not sure too Dave. I think it's gonna be Quagliarella night.

The picture of Tevez is hilarious.
on the 10th November, 2013 at 9:45am

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