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The road to domestic glory…

March 4, 2016

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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