Club Features

The road to domestic glory…

March 4, 2016 - 12:20 pm

The following is a Guest Post by BelgianJuventino

2015/2016 Scudetto Showdown

With 11 games left to play, the Scudetto race is fast approaching its conclusion. It remains presently too early to call an end to the story, but let us take a detailed look at how we stack up against the other competitors for silverware before focusing on what hurdles await us and our foes.

1st JUVENTUS 61 pts
2nd NAPOLI 58 pts
3rd ROMA 53 pts
4th FIORENTINA 53 pts
5th INTER 48 pts
6th MILAN 47 pts
7th SASSUOLO 41 pts
8th LAZIO 37 pts
9th BOLOGNA 35 pts
10th CHIEVO 34 pts

Currently we are top of the pack, with a small gap created in the last 2 games (drawing against Bologna and beating Inter), thanks to Napoli dropping the ball twice in 2 draws against Milan and Fiorentina.

Napoli are obviously our main opponent for the Scudetto, thus I will focus on Juventus and Napoli. We should keep in mind not to disregard Roma and Fiorentina though; they can still spring a surprise on all of us.

Now, with the end of the race coming in sight, the trophy nearly within grasp, let’s take a look at the schedule. Who do We and Napoli face in the remaining 11 games? ( A= away game, H= home game)

JUVENTUS schedule:

Atalanta (A), Sassuolo (H), Torino (A), Empoli (H), Milan (A), Palermo (H), Lazio (H), Fiorentina (A), Carpi (H), Verona (A) and Sampdoria (H)

NAPOLI schedule:

Chievo (H), Palermo (A), Genoa (H), Udinese (A), Verona (H), Inter (A), Bologna (H), Roma (A), Atalanta (H), Torino (A) and Frosinone (H)

When we compare these schedules, we notice some juicy games are yet to come.

  • Juventus have to face four top 10 teams in Sassuolo, Milan, Lazio and Fiorentina
  • Napoli also have four top 10 teams left to face in Chievo, Inter, Bologna and Roma
  • Juventus will face Milan and Fiorentina at their respective home grounds
  • Napoli also face 2 difficult away games against Inter and Roma
  • On paper, the strongest opponent left for Juve is Fiorentina, who currently share the 3rd spot with Roma.
  • For Napoli yet again, the same is true. Their strongest opponent in the table is Roma, locked in a fight for 3rd spot with Fiorentina
  • We both face a Milan based team –  we will meet Milan in San Siro and Napoli will face Inter in the San Siro
  • Both Juventus and Napoli have 6 home games and 5 away games to play
  • Both Juventus and Napoli have to play against Torino, Atalanta and Verona

With this many similarities, who has the “easier” schedule?

There is no clear “easier” schedule here, as both teams have tricky fixtures left to deal with. Maybe Juventus have a slightly more difficult schedule, as they also have Lazio and Sassuolo left to confront from our top 10 clashes, whereas Napoli have Chievo (who are dead even in 10th spot with Empoli; another team which we still need to face) and Bologna.

The favourites for the Scudetto victory

First round results

How did we do when we faced these teams last time? I put on my detective hat, narrowed my eyes and focused upon our recent history.

Juventus have a nice record going into this schedule: We won every single game, barring a humiliating loss to Sassuolo (1-0). Which makes the record 10 wins and a loss. We beat Milan 1-0, Lazio 0-2, Fiorentina 3-1. There were some shaky victories too, with the 2-3 win against Carpi standing out the most in that aspect.

Napoli’s record is marginally worse. They have 8 wins out of 11, 2 draws against Roma and Bologna and a defeat to Bologna. They defeated Chievo 0-1 and Inter 2-1. They demolished Frosinone 1-5. Their 3-2 defeat to Bologna came as a shock, but we also faced a tough time at the Dall’Ara.

If we would assume we will repeat these results, Juve would gain 30 more points, Napoli would gain 26 points. That would make us champions and possibly have Napoli drop in the rankings, depending on the results for Roma and Fiorentina.

Of course it is not that easy. Every game is different and the main thing to remember is this: there are still 33 points left to fight for, absolutely nothing has been decided yet.

Dark horse

I would also like to point at another team that recently has enjoyed a bit of a Renaissance. I’m being careful with my words here, it is perhaps bold to speak of Renaissance. I’m talking about our opponents in the Coppa final, AC Milan. Recent results suggest they are beginning to click together now. Who knows how strong they will be when we face them in week 32?

I expect 2 very difficult games against them (Serie A and Coppa) as they are battling to achieve qualification for Europe next season. They can still find this in the league standings, but I can’t deny that the Coppa Italia trophy looks even juicier to them now. Besides winning the cup, it would also guarantee them a spot in Europe. After our horrendous show against Inter, Milan will almost certainly sniff an opportunity for an upset. Expect a hard game against them!

Other commitments

Juventus have battles left to fight beyond the borders of Serie A football. It’s a major hurdle to overcome and they might not make it, but there is a chance that Juventus will have Champions League football to play after the Bayern clash. Which will be a major focus and subsequent drain of energy.

Napoli have the ‘luxury’ of not playing in Europe anymore, after their defeat to Villareal. Lazio is the only team that still have the Europa League to play for. Juventus and especially Roma have an uphill battle to face in the Champions League and we have already waved goodbye to Napoli and Fiorentina.

Concerning the Serie A race, this is an advantage for Napoli and Fiorentina, if the other teams compete in Europe, they will have to spend lots of energy there, which will leave a strain on their domestic campaign. But then again, Roma need a miracle to beat Real Madrid. Juventus also need a huge performance in order to overcome Bayern.

It is realistic to assume that Lazio will be the sole representative in Europe after the round of 16 reaches its conclusion. 

Besides that, there is also still a Coppa Italia final to play for, which will be duked out by Juventus and AC Milan. It is only one game, but a tough one at that.

CL: Barzagli duking it out with Müller

Trivia:

  • Napoli was crowned Winter champions this season. Looking at Serie A history, in close to 70% of cases, the Winter champion was also crowned Scudetto winner
  • Napoli took the most points at home from all teams
  • Juventus took the most points in away games from all teams
  • Napoli boasts the best attack in Serie A, with the highest amount of goals scored
  • Juventus boasts the best defense, with the least goals conceded
  • The goal difference between Juventus and Napoli is dead even

Juve top-scorer Dybala with 13 goals so far

WHY JUVENTUS WILL WIN THE 2015/2016 SCUDETTO

Juventus are top of the table, with 3 points more than 2nd placed Napoli. There are no direct encounters left for these teams, so Juventus have their destiny in their own hands. The Scudetto is theirs to lose. They have also been crowned champions for 4 seasons straight, so if any team knows how to win in Serie A right now, it is Juventus.

Despite a bad start and numerous amounts of injuries to the team, they are top of the pack. They have the most quality both in their starting eleven and on the bench. There is simply no other team as complete as Juventus. Winning a 5th consecutive Scudetto would be another major record for Juventus. That is why Juventus will win the Scudetto.

WHY NAPOLI WILL WIN THE SCUDETTO

Napoli has Serie A topscorer Gonzalo Higuain in their ranks and boast the finest attack in Italy. With Higuain firing on all cilinders, Napoli have been close to unbeatable. Visiting the San Paolo is one of the most daunting trips to make for all other teams.

Besides that, Napoli have never been more behind the team since when a certain Diego led their charge. For the first time in decades, the Scudetto is a realistic objective. Comparisons between Higuain and that other Argentinean prodigy, Maradona, have been flying around for a long time. This is their chance to make it happen. They are only 3 points behind Juventus, with 33 points still left to fight for.

What’s more, they have more than just a prolific Higuain. Lorenzo Insigne is enjoying his best ever season. Next they have Callejon to complete their attack and they have added valuable quality elsewhere too: Koulibaly is performing superbly in the heart of the defense, they have added the ever industrious Allan to their midfield ranks, an experienced goalie with Pepe Reina and in short, they have a very strong starting eleven.

And nothing else left to play for.. No Coppa commitments, no European campaign to conserve energy for. They can and they will go all out for the win in each and every single game to come. They will not give up until the very end.

1st JUVENTUS
2nd NAPOLI
3rd ROMA
4th FIORENTINA
5th MILAN
6th SASSUOLO
7th INTER

What I hope the table will look like at the end of the season:

Juventus and Napoli deserve to be guaranteed of a Champions League spot. I picked Roma over Fiorentina for the third spot, because they have displayed that little bit more quality and experience to have an impact in the CL. Fiorentina and Milan in the Europa League could both go far, Sassuolo would be nice to see there, but I expect they will be weakened after the upcoming summer transfer period. So that is why I opted for Milan, who will most likely grow in strength instead.

Feel free to rate and discuss on the 2015/2016 Scudetto showdown! Leave a comment below for a good discussion or find me on Twitter @The OddJamie

Yours sincerely

BelgianJuventino

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  • Avatar
    Moderator March 4, 2016 at 1:38 pm

    Fantastic work ! A clear and concise look at what we have to face in the coming months as well as how much easier our rivals path might be.

    Totally agree with you regarding Milan – There;s a real momentum with them right now – they are starting to find their feet, albeit far later than we expected – That mini-crisis could have bought about a change in management, instead it’d bought them closer together. That game at the San Siro is going to be another stiff test of our title crededntials. My hope is that Napoli have slipped up before then.

    My only hope is that Napoli do a ‘Napoli’ – That is to say, they run out of juice. A point thats been raised before is their inability to last the full 90 minutes – they play a direct, dynamic brand of football – high intensity…..and that can lay into their opponents hands. See the Fiorentina game a few days back. The way they set up looked like the ideal blueprint for how to defeat i Partenopei – They pressed and harried the, stifled and suffocted their attack by always being on the front foot themselves. The napoli goal was down to a Fiorentina error – that chance aside, there wasn’t much of note. Fiorentina, on the other hand, play a beautiful style unto their own. Sousa has to be one to look at for the future….but thats another discussion for another day.

    This great article has me thinking about all the various ramifications and possibilities in the coming months – Fantastic work !

    • Avatar
      BelgianJuventino March 4, 2016 at 2:23 pm

      I’m happy you liked the piece! I tried to be as wholesome as possible, covering as many aspects of the race as I could discover!

      I too hope for Napoli to run out of energy, as you say, they usually dont have the stamina to last for a whole season. We will have to wait and see how they perform!

      And by the way: thanks for letting me write an article of my own on your site, I greatly appreciate it.

  • Avatar
    tpick March 4, 2016 at 3:08 pm

    So with Conte going to Chelsea, how much does everyone think they will buy Pogba for this summer? 100m even I’m guessing. I’d also be willing to accept one of Hazard or Oscar in part exchange.

    • Avatar
      BelgianJuventino March 4, 2016 at 3:54 pm

      I hope he won’t leave at all. And believe me, you don’t want Hazard at Juve. He’s lazy and selfish, he wouldn’t fit in at all. Oscar would be a better alternative.

      The only Juve player Chelsea can have is Cuadrado for all I care.

      • thegutterpoet
        thegutterpoet March 6, 2016 at 5:55 am

        I would take Hazard of last season in flash, comrade….for he was more often than not sublime. As he was the term prior. Only this season has he floundered in the premiership, and the same can be said of most of his colleagues at Chelsea. Very strange state of affairs afoot there since the Summer. Loosely fits into Mourinho’s regular 3 year routine of succeeding then falling foul of players or club hierarchy. However the decline on the field this roll of those same dice was staggering and brutal.

        How and why they think Conte is the man to take them forward is beyond me. He has achieved very little in Europe, shown continued absence of tactical genius, wears his heart on his sleeve to such a degree that absolutely nothing matters but his emotions, departed Juve by disrespecting the players (not good enough to win in Europe) and quitting two days into pre-season training…since then, he has failed to improve gli Azzurri and I worry quite seriously of how we will fare at the EUROS.

        Yes yes! He appeared as a leader when we needed a man to lead and his success was brilliant, yet it was also a period in which Beppe and Paratici hugely improve the squad year upon year and in all fairness, we had by far the strongest squad in the league…which has not changed hugely, but what has changed is that the first XI of Napoli is likely not far away from our own.

        • Avatar
          BelgianJuventino March 6, 2016 at 8:26 am

          That is only form and fitness. I have seen a lot from Hazard, especially for the Belgian team. He doesnt bother much with training, he assumes to be the star while he is far from it, has some diva behaviour if things dont go his way.

          He is much like we know Cassano or Balotelli, while not as bad as either of those. He has immense talent, but does not make the most of it.

          Besides that, he would ill adapt to Serie A football. The same can be said about Juve culture.

          I wish Conte the best of luck, but I also have my doubts about him and Chelsea..

          • thegutterpoet
            thegutterpoet March 6, 2016 at 10:21 am

            Comrade, I don’t doubt for a second you have some inside knowledge of Hazard before he moved to the premiership…and its interesting…to learn of his talent leaning him towards arrogance. I never watch Belgian football, whereas I watch more premiership football than any other league. Hazard, last season, was often unplayable, sublime, absolutely superb. The PFA player of the year award is voted for by players, amongst others, and its ranked by the players themselves as something of a pinnacle. To have your fellow professionals voting you the best amongst them all is an honour.

            I agreed fully with that award for last season’s efforts. Perhaps in Belgium he was more lazy; weaker league, huge talent, easier to shine and prove potent without much effort, yet his work rate was as phenomenal as his potency last season. He was for me, and for many others, the player of the season in my homeland’s top tier.

            So, I must contest any semblance of comparison with Balotelli and Cassano, at least for his past two seasons in the premiership. And side with the PFA vote, as Hazard was superb.

            I believe he also won the PFA young player of the year in his first season.

            Of the Belgians currently plying their trade in the premiership…Courtois and Lukaku are enjoying solid seasons. The former is a player I believe to be world class (its no surprise that Chelsea’s form has improved drastically, not just since Hiddink appeared, but Courtois returned from long term injury – he is an amazing goalkeeper…Butland, Forster and De Gea are the only ones near him), and the latter, shows signs of this often, yet he continues to blow not exactly hot and cold, but hot and lukewarm!

            As for Hazard…his first two seasons in England were outstanding. This campaign, however, like many others (Willian excepted) he has been lethargic. Costa has been revived…I assume Hazard will end the season strongly.

          • Avatar
            BelgianJuventino March 6, 2016 at 11:03 am

            Hazard never played in the Belgian league, I am refering to the NT.

            For the NT he really has a “whiny bitch” attitude. Chelsea Hazard is far superior to Belgium Hazard.

            He could shine like Ronaldo if only he had the same workrate. I named Cassano and Balotelli because these are well known players who didnt use their talent to the maximum, and so is Hazard.

            Of course not as bad as either of those two, less antics and better performances speak for him.

            Anyway, I hope Hazard can play like the Chelsea Hazard at EURO 2016. Not this diva attitude again.

            Courtois is a superb goalie, he has the whole package to succeed and he is making it come true. Lukaku is also doing fantastic, just like more Belgians in the Premiership. Think of De Bruyne(regarded as the best Belgian player here), Kompany, dembele, chadli, origi…

            Its a fine national team, I dont think their top spot in the rankings is justified though.

          • thegutterpoet
            thegutterpoet March 6, 2016 at 11:28 am

            I’d forgotten about De Bruyne…who has been consistently amazing since moving to City. They are missing him.

            As for the rest you mentioned…

            Kompany can still be resolute, though he has lost something with all these injuries.

            Dembele? I had assumed he was french. Now he is a player I hugely admire. Extremely strong and hard to dispossess, intelligent, doesn’t move that swiftly with his feet, but does so quick enough with his mind. I am a great admirer of Dembele.

            And yes yes! If Hazard was as focused for Belgium as he was for two seasons for Chelsea, then Belgium would be more worthy of their present FIFA ranking. Agreed fully. Yet the same can be said of Lukaku, and to a lesser degree, De Bruyne.

          • Avatar
            BelgianJuventino March 6, 2016 at 1:23 pm

            That is the usual De Bruyne problem, he is always overlooked. Yet between him and Hazard, he is the better and more complete player. Especially so for Belgium.

            Kompany is our man of glass, very much like Robben is for the netherlands. Great when fit but so easily injured.

            Dembele is Belgian indeed, not French. You will certainly see him at Euro 16.

            Lukaku has been overhyped too much in Belgium when he burst on the scene. He is a good striker and a strong one, but not an elite.

            There are still more Belgians in thebpremiership though. Vertonghen and Alderweireld for Tottenham and so on. Or ex PL players like Mirallas and Vermaelen. All good players but no elite ones

    • Avatar
      Papilaya(John)™★★★ March 4, 2016 at 7:33 pm

      #PadoinToChelsea

      A good 20 mill should do it.

  • thegutterpoet
    thegutterpoet March 6, 2016 at 6:05 am

    Many thanks for the article, my friend…a sterling debut!

    I believe our fixture list to be a little easier. Milan and Fiorentina away seems not as daunting – at least in my own eyes – as Inter and Roma away. The other fixtures, are probably tougher on Juve.

    A point which is worth mentioning is that were we to draw on points with Napoli, our head to head meetings are a win a piece, with both sides scoring twice and conceding twice. The next measure would be goal difference for the league campaign as a whole, and finally goals scored. If such measures failed to yield a winner, the winner of the scudetto would be drawn from lots!

    Due to our horrid injury crisis earlier this season and subsequent poor form, Napoli have out-scored us by ten goals (58) and presently enjoy a +2 advantages over our season to date goal difference (+35 to our +33).

    We can claw back the goal difference in our favour I believe…and I am unsure if away goals in the head to head measure…if so, we are fine and dandy.

    TGP