Can Napoli stay the course, or have Juventus smelt blood?
Scudetto on the line for Italian giants
It was inevitable. With just seconds left to play, Paulo Dybala nutmegged the defender, swivelled, and sliced the ball into the back of the Lazio net.
Juventus, on the cusp of dropping two vital points, had beaten Lazio to pile the pressure on Napoli. Even more inevitable was the Partenopei then buckling under that pressure, losing 4-2 at home to Roma later that evening.
There’s now just a point in it with Juve having a game in hand over their rivals. It’s all set up for a fantastic last few weeks as the race for the Scudetto goes down to the wire.
Juve are now favourites at 2/5, with Napoli out at 7/4.
The Coral News Team take a closer look at the various factors that could make the difference…
With 11 rounds remaining, it’s certainly squeaky bum time. Of both teams remaining fixtures, Napoli look like they have the slightly easier run-in.
Of the big sides, they have just Inter Milan and AC Milan to face. Their final two games are Sampdoria away and Crotone at the Stadio San Paolo.
Juve also have the Milan giants to face, as well as a very tricky clash with Roma at Stadio Olimpico in the penultimate round of games.
The kicker here is that both Napoli and Juve have to face each other at Juventus Stadium next month. That one could well decide it.
Only Juventus currently remain in Europe. And that could have a huge bearing on how it all plays out.
Max Allegri’s outfit take on Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley on Wednesday in the second leg of their Champions League tie.
If they exit here, which is very possible, that frees up a big Juve squad to concentrate on league glory.
Maurizio Sarri’s side, however, have already exited the Europa League having been beaten by RB Leipzig. Napoli will be desperate for the Old Lady to do a job on Spurs and remain fighting on more fronts.
In these tense moments, Juve have a teak tough mentality. The Bianconeri have been there and done it on countless occasions. They haven’t won six consecutive Scudettos by accident.
And that last-gasp Dybala winner was utterly typical of Allegri and his team’s attitude.
On the other hand, there are questions to be answered on Napoli’s state of mind. Having been in the lead for so long, can they stay the course?
The Naples outfit haven’t won the league since 1990. The desperation for their first league title in 28 years could be their downfall.
Their defeat against Roma – having gone a goal up – will be seen as a sign that they don’t have the stomach for the fight.
Will they prove everyone wrong, or have Juve smelt blood?
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