Maurizio Sarri, the coach of Serie A leaders Napoli, has often said that Juventus are the favourites to win the title, and a key player from the reigning champions returned the compliment ahead of this week’s matches.
The Bianconeri won 2-1 at Sampdoria last weekend to finish the first half of the season with a ninth successive win to sit second, two points from the top.
As he relished the positive run, Juve defender Leonardo Bonucci said Napoli were the biggest rivals for the scudetto.
“I’d pick Napoli due to their convincing displays to date and the fact that they have a champion among their ranks in (Gonzalo) Higuain,” the Italian international, who helped Juve win their last four straight titles.
Bonucci, however, also looked at other competitive teams within three points of the top with 19 games remaining.
“But the table suggests that there are four sides challenging for honours and everything will probably be decided in the final few matches of the season,” he added.
“We’re aware that the second part of the campaign will be wide open and therefore very difficult.”
On Sunday, Juve visit Udinese, who beat them 1-0 in Turin in the league’s opening game to start a negative run that left the Bianconeri 11 points adrift from the top after 10 games.
Since a 1-0 loss at Sassuolo in late October, Juve seem to have rediscovered the ruthlessness of the recent seasons.
“I always said that Juve were the great favourites,” Sarri said this week. “Even when they were in 12th position. I was the only truly consistent one.” GNA