The Juventus Stadium will play host to one of the most entertaining Coppa Italia semi-final in the recent history when the defending champions Juventus face Napoli in the first leg of their Coppa Italia semi-final. Here are five talking points ahead of the clash:
Juve in imperious form, Napoli looking to bounce back
Having dented their hopes of staying in the title hunt with a humiliating 2-0 home defeat to a 10-man Atalanta, and their Champions League dreams taken a reality check with first leg defeat to Real Madrid, the Coppa Italia remains Napoli’s only realistic chance of silverware this season.
Juventus, meanwhile, are in imperious form winning nine consecutive matches in all competitions during which time they have conceded only two goals. Also promising for them is their extraordinary home record where they recorded a 30th consecutive win with a 2-0 victory over Empoli on Saturday.
Napoli to meet a transformed Higuain
The last time Napoli faced their old striker, Higuain was just a clinical and efficient poacher in the box. But recently, he has grown into a central striker role in a 4-2-3-1 formation where he is increasingly demonstrating his vision, athleticism and the kind of leadership Juventus has been missing up the field since the departure of Carlos Tevez.
MAJOR trolling as guy strolls streets of Napoli in a Higuain shirt. Watch it. pic.twitter.com/7ixLQ6Q2gc
— Tarek Khatib (@ADP1113) February 28, 2017
Arkadiusz Milik and then Dries Mertens has successfully filled the void left by the Argentine at the Naples club but Higuain continues to be widely hated among the Neapolitans. In fact, earlier this season, a pizza joint in the city having reportedly offered to sell a Margherita Pizza for only €1 when Higuain suffers his first injury for Juventus. So keeping the Argentine off the scoring sheet at any cost will be a priority for Sarri's men tonight.
Juventus without Benatia, Marchisio, and Sturaro
Our squad list for tomorrow night's #CoppaItalia semi-final is IN! ????????
— JuventusFC (@juventusfcen) February 27, 2017
Juventus will be without Medhi Benatia, Claudio Marchisio, and Stefano Sturaro when they invite Napoli at home. Marchisio misses out having picked up a knock in the 2-0 win against Empoli on Saturday while Sturaro has an abdominal injury. Benatia, who was an unused substitute against Empoli, is sidelined with a stomach flu.
ADL-Sarri spat still boiling
The rift between Maurizio Sarri and Napoli President Aurelio De Laurentiis is reportedly still boiling within the Partenopei dressing room. The eccentric club owner stunned fans and media by openly criticizing the coach for his team selection following last week’s Champions League defeat to Real Madrid.
A media blackout has been since mandated around the club but the reports emerging from Italy suggest that the extent of the situation will depend on a trio of upcoming matches — which include tonight’s match, a Serie A clash with Roma on Saturday and the second leg of Champions League on March 7.
Napoli fans banned for Coppa
As expected, the Turin governing body has imposed an away supporter ban ahead of the final. The away section of the stadium was closed for recent clashes between the two sides, as their heated rivalry has developed into seriously critical situations in the past.
The ban means no tickets will be sold to residents of the Campania region, where Naples is situated, and even those with fan cards will be denied access to the stadium.