Juventus Crush Napoli 3-0; Blow Serie A Title Race Wide Open

Juventus looked crushed and lost a few weeks ago. Too many draws, too few goals. Milan woke up, Zlatan Ibrahimovic looked like the best striker in the world once again, and looked on their way to win a second consecutive Serie A title.

Well, the last two matches changed everything. While AC Milan drew at Catania on Saturday, with the usual ‘ghost goal’ that happens now for the second time this season to Milan and to Juventus’ benefit. Juve beat Fiorentina 5-0 last week, finally putting their winning and goal problems behind them. And then came Napoli, who were supposed to put up more of a fight in their chase for the third and final Champions League spot.

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Well, Napoli didn’t really show up at the Arena. They barely made it past the half way line during the first half. After Leonardo Bonucci opened the scoring for Juventus the team from the South finally started to venture more towards Buffon’s goal, but couldn’t even manage an attempt at the bored goalkeeper, sending their 7 attempts wide or high.

Walter Mazzarri’s team made quite an impression most of this season, including in the 3-3 draw between the two clubs earlier this season, probably the best game this season in the Serie A. But it’s reasonable to believe that the crushing 4-1 defeat at Stamford Bridge took the wind out of the Napolitano sails. So much talent shouldn’t produce such a flat and disappointing display, even if it’s against the best defense in Italy.

Arturo Vidal has been one of the more frustrating players this season in Torino. Obvious individual ability and technique, but lacking in the decision making section, especially when the goal is in range. Not today, as Vidal finished brilliantly and scored his fourth goal of the season after nutmegging two Napoli defenders.

The finale? For the substitutes and two players who should see more of the pitch. Alessandro Del Piero needed only one touch to set up Fabio Quagliarella who scored the third goal against his former team. To tell you the truth, it should have been more than just three. Juan Zuniga lost his head near the end, elbowing Chiellini in the face and getting the red card.

So, can Antonio Conte keep the ship on their current course, hoping Milan will drop some points along the way, most likely in the Milano derby? Their Tuesday match with Barcelona has much to do with the rest of the season in Italy and the identity of the 2011-2012 champion.