Well, it is now officially a two horse race for the scudetto.
Inter have tripped up yet again, displaying a glaring lack of maturity and a lineup riddled with considerable holes; Fiorentina are back moving in the right direction thanks to a nice win over Torino, but at this point nobody really believes they have what it takes to close a six point gap to the front runners; and any hope Roma had of reigniting their season with a coaching change from Garcia to Spalletti vanished with a lighting fast finish from Paulo Dybala in the Sunday night showcase.
Ah yes, Dybala, the current darling of Serie A, and rightfully so. Even the most steadfast skeptics have been silenced by his sublime play that seems to keep improving with each passing week. It’s no small feat to simultaneously fill the shoes of both Tevez and Pirlo, but he has managed to do it both on the field and in the hearts and minds of the Juventus faithful. Somehow Dybala is able to play the roles of playmaker and finisher at the same time, and against Roma he truly appeared to be everywhere on the field at once. He certainly got a helping hand from Juve’s other crown jewel, Paul Pogba. But while the Frenchman is all power and pace, Dybala screams class and finesse as he makes everything appear effortless. Sort of like that other player of a similar stature that just won another Ballon D’Or, or, without getting too far ahead of ourselves, very much like his counterpart playing for title rivals Napoli.
Sure, Higuain has been getting all the attention lately, but just as important to Napoli’s success has been little Lorenzo Insigne. This is the first season he is being used consistently in a starting role, and one could argue that this is the key difference between Sarri’s Napoli and Benitez’s Napoli. Insigne is incredibly dangerous with the ball at his feet, and the extra attention he demands from opposing defenders has freed up some crucial space for Higuain and Hamsik to work with. The three of them in tandem have been deadly, and when either Mertens or Callejon is added to the mix, you understand why they have a full 17 more goals scored than Juventus.
And so it is looking like it just might be a fascinating title race to watch.
Napoli seem to have found the consistency they were sorely lacking last season, and they came through with flying colors in their first true test with the pressure of first place on their backs. Juve will be sure to hound them the whole way; however, and as the season progresses, we can expect things to get extremely heated. Napoli and Juventus have a big, longstanding rivalry (although, to be fair, it seems as though just about every team in the league has a rivalry with Napoli), and it would be lovely to see shades of Platini vs Maradona in the battles between Dybala and Insigne, or Pogba and Higuain, to keep it between France and Argentina.
One can only hope so, after the relatively uninteresting recent years of Juve domination, and if there is one thing that Napoli supporters are good for, it’s making things interesting.
Sean Sedacca covers Italian soccer for Prost Amerika and Bigsoccerhead.com You can also listen to Sean on the latest Bigsoccerhead Podcast.
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