After nine consecutive league titles for Juventus, the Serie A title race has made for an intriguing spectacle in the last couple of years after ‘the chasing pack’ finally caught up with the falling giants.
A bid to get a third different Italian champion in as many seasons has led to the standout game of this weekend when Napoli host record-winners Juventus.
The league leaders returned to winning ways with a 2-0 victory against Sampdoria last time out, with the sort of dominant performance Napoli needed after a sub-par display produced their first defeat of the season against Inter Milan in the first post-World Cup match.
Victor Osimhen was once again the star of the show at Sampdoria after scoring his tenth Serie A goal of the season. However, it’s his movement on and off the ball which is fundamental for I Partenopei as it causes problems for the backline and even brought about Tomas Rincon’s decisive sending-off late in the first half.
The striker’s bull-like presence has characterised what promises to be a historic season for Napoli as they chase a first league title since a Diego Maradona-inspired campaign 33 years ago.
Thus, Osimhen and the whole of Naples will be up for one of the most anticipated clashes of the season.
Beware the Old Lady
Juventus sit seven points behind Napoli in second position and Luciano Spalletti’s men are arguably the most free-flowing side in Europe’s top five leagues. Still, the Old Lady have kept 12 clean sheets after only 17 games.
It will indeed take a colossal effort to get anything from Serie A’s in-form team who are on an eight-game winning run without conceding a goal.
The Parthenopeans, however, have the most prolific Nigerian in Serie A history within their ranks as Osimhen now has eight goals and two assists in his last 10 league games, and remains top of the Serie A goal scorers’ list.
In just 13 appearances this season, Osimhen has equalled the 10 Serie A goals total from his 24 games in his first season while he is four goals away from last campaign’s tally from 27 appearances.
How important is Napoli’s marksman?
Osimhen could be on his way to a remarkable season if he stays fit and thankfully, the Lagos-born frontman looks in superb physical condition as he continues to terrify defences with his finishing ability, power and pace.
Juve’s potential 3-6-1 system will look to stifle and suffocate the Neapolitans’ swashbuckling style of play but Osimhen’s combative spirit and desire would be key for his team to get any positive result against Massimiliano Allegri’s side.
Osimhen has never scored in three league games against the Bianconeri and now is the perfect time to dent the hopes of Italy’s most successful club. Crucially, the striker has dependable teammates in Khvicha Kvaratskhelia, Piotr Zielinski, Giovanni Simeone, Giacomo Raspadori, Hirving Lozano and Matteo Politano who have all turned up to ease the attacking burden this season.
The dangerous duo of Victor Osimhen (12) and Khvicha Kvaratskhelia (11) are responsible for the highest Serie A goal involvements and the 24-year-old will indeed have a major say if Napoli extinguish Juve’s unlikely title challenge at the Diego Armando Maradona Stadium on Friday evening.
Should Napoli avoid defeat, they will definitely be the main candidates for a historic Scudetto but they must first outsmart a side who have been winning ugly and been excellent defensively.
Pertinently, these are qualities Juve showed throughout their unstoppable years and despite all the chaos going on at board level.
A certain marksman is about to test their resolve.