As the Serie A winter break draws to a conclusion, attention will soon shift to domestic duties as Napoli and Inter battle it out to not only topple each other, but end the dominance of reigning champions Juventus. Max Allegri’s men currently hold a nine point lead over the Partenopei, who, under the guidance of Carlo Ancelotti, will be a real threat in their mission to chase down the Bianconeri.
Napoli, and to a lesser extent Inter, will have been interested spectators as the title holders stumbled against Atalanta on Boxing Day. Were it not for some Cristiano Ronaldo inspired heroics in the final 15 minutes, Juventus would have lost their unbeaten run, but more importantly, they showed a vulnerability that had yet to be seen this term. In the final contest before the winter break, the Bianconeri were again pegged back by Sampdoria and were extremely fortunate to benefit from VAR in the closing moments of the match as Riccardo Saponara was eventually deemed offside.
In back-to-back games, the reigning champions have benefited from good fortune but the second half of the campaign is likely to involve more variables for all involved in the hunt for glory.
The Azzurri are currently priced at 12/1 to claim a first Scudetto since 1989-90 and, barring a sudden downturn in form, are the Bianconeri’s closest challengers. It has been well documented Ronaldo’s arrival was considered the final piece of Juventus’ quest for Champions League glory and Napoli and Inter will hope this obsession can be to their advantage domestically.
Meanwhile, the Azzurri find themselves in the Europa League from February and it will be telling how Ancelotti chooses to treat the competition, particularly if the Old Lady progress deep in to Europe’s premier tournament.
If you really fancy a flutter, third place Inter are a whopping 66/1 to get their name on the trophy. Luciano Spalletti’s troops would have to overturn a 14 point lead and have a near perfect 19-game run. Bitter capital rivals Lazio and Roma are 150 and 250/1, respectively.