Series A is generally claimed to be one of those leagues with quite a dominant champion and other lukewarm and lackluster teams who easily kneel down to the champions. But this time, there’s quite a twist in the tale. In the Bundesliga, Bayern Munich lead with a margin of 15 points, in Priemere League Manchester City sit comfortably atop with 13 points gap, in League 1, PSG are racing with 10 points gap, while in La Liga, Barcelona have a difference of 9 points to the second-placed Atletico Madrid.
But the story is quite thrilling in Italy. Juventus and Napoli are in a neck-to-neck competition wherein Juventus, currently, sit atop with 62 points and Napoli with 60 points but a game in hand and the best part is that this fierce battle has been the same for more than two months. Here we see a fight between the most consistent team and the most spectacular one.
“The winner will be the one who doesn’t blink first,” said Corrado Ferlaino, Napoli’s president during its 1987 and 1990 title runs, when Diego Maradona was the club star. “I’m convinced that whoever makes the first mistake will see the other team run away irretrievably.”
Aurelio De Laurentiis, the current Napoli president and also a film producer, seems more concerned that power-broking could decide the title.
“Juve belongs to the most powerful family in Italy for the last 100 years,” De Laurentiis said last week, referring to the Agnellis of Fiat fame.
“Juve has 300-400 employees and we have about 60. Their budget is three times as big as ours. But we’re right there with them.”
“In the end, the better team will win,” Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri said ahead of meeting Fiorentina on Friday. “This isn’t the Champions League, where it helps to have some luck. All the other chatter should remain inside the coffee bar.”
One big inevitable factor that can play a key decider of the winner could be the injuries.
Juventus midfielder Blaise Matuidi will be out for up to a month after tearing a leg muscle in the last game. But the Old Lady has so many options that it has already overcome injuries or drops in form by top players such as Paulo Dybala and Higuain.
When Higuain was struggling at the start of the season, Mario Mandzukic stepped up. With Dybala currently out, Federico Bernardeschi has shown off his abilities and proved his worth. Likewise, Claudio Marchisio is an able replacement for Matuidi.
But the things are not so same at Napoli.
There was a collective gasp when the club top scorer Dries Mertens limped off with a twisted left ankle last weekend. The Belgium international is expected to play against visiting Lazio on Saturday even though his fitness remains questionable.
To make matters more complicated, Napoli has had trouble attracting and holding onto players in the transfer market.
Rising Bologna forward Simone Verdi made a very public rejection of Napoli’s transfer offer last month. Then this week Ajax’s Amin Younes indicated he doesn’t intend to honor his transfer to Napoli, which is due to start in July.
“A lot of people think we’re a minor city and squad,” De Laurentiis said. “If we win the scudetto (title), I want to award Neapolitans with an entire year of celebrations. They will have earned it.”
With such a fierce competition going on, it will be hard to tell which team could end up as the winners but one thing is for certain, Series A is LIT AF!
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