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Saturday December 8 2012
Will the real Anti-Juve please stand up?

Inter and Napoli won’t be playing for the title on Sunday, although Adam Scime argues a win for either could provide a key insight into the rest of the season.

Ever since Juventus were crowned champions of Italy at the end of last season, the question has been posed as to which team are their true challengers waiting to dethrone the King in 2012-13.

With plenty of new talent entering the Appiano Gentile training ground over the summer transfer window, Inter are one of the contenders, while the other present threat is a blossoming Napoli side. Those two teams will face off on Sunday evening in a tell-tale clash that may determine which is the best heavyweight suited to go the most rounds with Juventus.

Neither side have been without their issues this season, but a head-to-head showdown has the potential to prove whether it is the squad of Andrea Stramaccioni or Walter Mazzarri which is truly more explosive, mentally prepared and capable of taking on the reigning champions.

The Southerners currently have two more points than Inter, have scored one more goal and let in four fewer. However, in entertaining fashion it was they who fell to Juventus by a 2-0 scoreline in Turin after a late collapse, while the Nerazzurri fought back to a 3-1 victory handing the holders their first loss in 50 Serie A matches.

Comparing departments, there are few real gaps in quality between the two. In goal, Samir Handanovic arguably has a step up on Morgan De Sanctis, but in defence Napoli have looked better organised throughout the season as Inter’s experienced centre-back Walter Samuel (who is suspended on Sunday) aims to help Andrea Ranocchia and Juan Jesus prove themselves at the top level.

In midfield, Gargano swapped Napoli for Inter in the off-season, but Christian Maggio, Gokhan Inler and Co. have seemingly hardly missed his presence.

Perhaps the area where both capture the imagination is up front. Antonio Cassano, Diego Milito and Rodrigo Palacio may look in need of the winter break at the moment after their early start to the campaign due to the Europa League qualification rounds, but when they are clicking few, if any, in the country can match their potency. Cassano has been missed and returns from his two-match ban for insulting the referee.

Nonetheless, Edinson Cavani is the epitome of the “top player” Juve have been seeking and is stealing headlines with 10 goals to his name on the domestic front, but it is Marek Hamsik who is truly thriving this season as Serie A’s most prolific attacking midfielder with seven goals and six assists to his name.

“I believe that this is my best campaign up until this point of my career,” the Slovakian playmaker suggested on Friday. “I’m scoring a lot of goals, but I’m also doing well thanks to the work of the whole side.”

On the back of his recent performances, the 25-year-old also revealed he is certain that his side are more capable than their upcoming opponents of being a factor in the title race. “The League table says that we are the anti-Juventus,” he added. “We are close to them after a great start to the season. If we continue on this path then we can go far.”

Hamsik may have a point, other than the ones emanating from his unique haircut. The position in the table is, in the end, the decisive factor and currently Napoli are two points closer to Juventus than President Massimo Moratti’s outfit.

However, the season is often a long and winding road - things can quickly change - and there is the opportunity to shake things up once again this weekend. Meanwhile, arguments can also be made for high-flying Fiorentina led by Coach Vincenzo Montella and a Lazio side boasting talents such as Miroslav Klose and Hernanes as possible outsiders.

As with politics, often the most exciting aspect is determining whether one has the gumption to truly overcome the incumbent currently sitting in the big chair. Sunday’s match is not do-or-die at this stage of the campaign, but it is an opening for the teams to show who may be title-worthy and who may simply be title-hopefuls.

Think you know your Italian football? Share your knowledge, tips and comments to win cash prizes in OLBG's tipster competition - £5,000 monthly.

Have your say...
FORZA INTER PER SEMPRE!
on the 12th December, 2012 at 6:53am
What a sad little man.
on the 11th December, 2012 at 7:53pm
Inter easy
on the 11th December, 2012 at 12:38am
I'm sorry but inter will win it, an plus the scudetto easy
on the 11th December, 2012 at 12:36am
Juve is only on the top because other teams are weak and they have started to pick up thier feet and play well just now , Juve is the most probable team to win serieA this year but next year it will be different , also we are going to see how the floor is going to be wiped with Juve by the true big clubs in champions league
on the 10th December, 2012 at 12:23pm
Napoli is the anti-juve...
Napoli have a united locker room, players are playing like warriors under a great tactician...
i feel this is the right season for Napoli...
though Inter are still bigg, the atmosphere in Inter's dressing room would certainly not be inspiring in midst of the Sneijder saga...
on the 9th December, 2012 at 1:33pm
@mustafa: Did you also enjoy the list I gave u last time?
on the 9th December, 2012 at 12:04pm
While italians are busy struggling/trying to find the ANTI-JUVE, european newspapers are crowning Juventus as "back in europe's top clubs". Who cares about SerieA when CL is ON!
I breath SerieA, but obviously even Budesliga is of better quality now. The Anti-Juve will never be reconginzed for the next 3 years. Napoli - Inter - Roma - Milan are YoYo teams.
on the 9th December, 2012 at 11:17am
@ Richard

Hey,

Did you like the list I gave you last time ?

:)
on the 9th December, 2012 at 10:44am
Facts are, Juve has deeper and more finely tuned team than the rest of Serie A and they play with more of a sense of urgency than their counterparts. Napoli seems to be the most logical as Anti-Juve due to more continuity in their roster the last few years. They don't change much from game to game either, its usually the same guys out there every week in the same formation and they seem to avoid the useless drama that follows Milan and Inter
on the 9th December, 2012 at 9:21am
@mustafa: "There is no title-worthy except for Juve.This is not fanatic opinion,it a FACT!" FACT???Based on what?? 
on the 9th December, 2012 at 6:43am
This article has nothing to do with if juve are going to win the scudetto but who their main contender is. As far as both are concerned neither are complete teams. Napoli are not deep enough and inter need somemore defenders because if they lose any of the back line its tough for them to find a replacement. Also please people get over the loses I guarantee juve tried to win in both loses but were out played on that day even gigi admitted that much
on the 9th December, 2012 at 4:37am
@ Anonymousi

Ha, JEALOUSY !

Of course I get irritated when my team loses considering that our coach is not there when he is needed the most. Against Inter, Alessio blew it completely. That's just one factor.

When it comes to you, you already used to losing so you think you won a championship in Torino.

Would you like a lollipop now as for Shiro?
on the 9th December, 2012 at 12:37am
@ Shiro

Hey pappi, would you like to have a lollipop ?
on the 9th December, 2012 at 12:27am
@Anonymousi

Sorry mate but Mustafa is right, im not just saying that because im also a Juve supporter but if we look honestly at the quality of everyone in Serie A you have to admit that Juve are the best side overall in the league. I don't always agree with him & i think he tends to go over the top at times but he has a point. Both Inter and Milan won because Juve underestimated them! in the Inter game they gave up & in the Milan game they never showed up. Only Juve can hurt Juve this season
on the 8th December, 2012 at 9:05pm
Mustafa must be the most biased Juve fan i have seen Wins ONE title and thinks his team is the best on the planet u allowed the Milan clubs to win? Wat kind of logic is that? are u freaking serious? Wat a sore loser
on the 8th December, 2012 at 7:33pm
mustafa is right, no real challengers for scudetto. its juves to lose. watch out for lazio, they are solid and tight, could easily snap up second place
on the 8th December, 2012 at 6:42pm
Both are great teams but MAJORLY LACK depth in their squad and consistency. They challenge juve bu rely too much on idividuals. If those individuals (we all know who they are for both sides) get hurt or suspended then they are treading on thin ice. They need to keep their FAT mouths SHUT about this anti-juve thing!! they need to just play the game and play as a team!!! Both their back lines are not the greatest inters is pretty good but still need improvement.... Juves is waayyy better.
on the 8th December, 2012 at 5:49pm
Juventus fans are a joke
on the 8th December, 2012 at 4:32pm
I think the anti Juve is either Napoli even though they have struggled for consistency or Fiorentis because they have really impressed me with the signings they have made, the way they have been playing and how they played against us they took the game to us and made us struggle and Montella looks to be a fantastic young Italian manager the further looks bright for Fiorentina but hopefully we show the hole of Italy that Juventus are still top dogs and we aren't going anywhere.

FORZA JUVE!!!
on the 8th December, 2012 at 4:19pm
Juve still have to play Inter and Napoli away from home this season. If the gap is the same then as it is now then they could be in trouble. I don't think the title race is over yet at all.
on the 8th December, 2012 at 4:06pm
smooth writing by mr scime. he knows his chemical buildups of both sides top to bottom and everything in between. napoli and inter are the leading contenders for the champions league spots available and not the scudetto. they know it in their pit because both presidents would take 2nd or 3rd in a heartbeat if asked today. the key for inter is to get into the champions league and i cannot believe milan is going to miss out. what a complete disaster and roma should be ashamed of their season
on the 8th December, 2012 at 4:03pm
@mustafa:Don't get too cocky kid! Will at the end of season who will have the last laugh.Inter and Napoli maybe inconsistent but Juventus not good enough this season.Remember boy! Your gifted goal against Catania and Inter.
on the 8th December, 2012 at 2:00pm
+

Now, that there's no Champions League, and Conte is back, Juve will be destructive and yet again undefeated.
on the 8th December, 2012 at 9:59am
There is no title-worthy except for Juve. This is not fanatic opinion, it a FACT !

Inter, ha! Who said they're a team in the first place. As I said before, their win over Juve was just because Juve allowed them to win. They struggle in every single game. In my view, they will be defeated badly against Napoli if Napoli played their game.

As for the Napoli, they lack consistency. Beside, if Cavani doesn't play, they practically don't win.

Scudetto is Juve's. No doubts.
on the 8th December, 2012 at 9:57am
This game will end in a draw or an inter victory...
on the 8th December, 2012 at 9:20am

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