Juventus remain unbeaten in Serie A, sitting top of the table and fearing little going into Tuesday's match against Napoli, who are in eighth place, despite flying high in Europe. If Edinson Cavani is unavailable, can Napoli really stop the Old Lady?
When will Juventus lose? It's almost certain that they'll have to -- at some point, Gigi Buffon is going to have a bad night, and the leaky bianconeri defense won't be able to protect the goal. Could Tuesday night against Napoli be the night their unbeaten run ends? Juve aren't at their attacking best away from home, preferring to play slightly more conservatively, and with the San Paolo capable of truly being the 12th man for big matches (see City, Manchester), there's no reason to believe Antonio Conte's approach will change.
But the partenopei certainly won't have an easy time of it. Not only are they going up against the league leaders, but they might have to do it without Gokhan Inler and Edinson Cavani, both of whom face late fitness tests. Inler needed to be substituted from the Manchester City match with a back injury and was rested against Atalanta, with the effects felt as Napoli were unable to control the midfield as much as they would have liked. Cavani, of course, provides the sparkle, his shine having returned after his brace secured Napoli's 2-0 Champions League win. The Uruguayan reminded us all of last season's dramatics when he scored a last-minute goal against la dea on Saturday to secure a point. But without the tip of the Holy Trident, the battle against Juve becomes much less ferocious.
At least Napoli have Ezequiel Lavezzi, arguably their best player this season. There was some confusion as to whether El Pocho would be included to face the Old Lady, as it appeared he was given a yellow card for dissent in the match against Atalanta, which would have meant a one-match suspension. Coach Walter Mazzarri insisted he'd spoken to the referee after the game, however, and there was no yellow to Lavezzi. Let the cries of conspiracy ring forth!
Juventus, meanwhile, travel to Naples without one of their own stars, Claudio Marchisio. The midfielder saw yellow against Lazio, meaning Alessandro Matri will have to bear the goal-scoring burden on his own on Tuesday. Apparently Michele Pazienza will get the nod in Marchisio's place. Perhaps he and Blerim Dzemaili can make daisy chains together and talk about how much they wish to help the team before playing errant passes and committing silly fouls. Really, ten men each might be less of a hindrance.
And on that note, bring on the Tuesday match! Once you've stocked up on whisky, that is.