Napoli were realistically seen as the only title challengers for Juventus in the Italian Serie A this season.
However, they now have appeared to have title on a plate for Juventus after losing 3-1 to Udinese in an ill-tempered game. Striker Gonzalo Higuain, who has been a major factor in the club’s push for the league title with more than 25 goals already, took his league tally to 30 goals with a fine effort to equalise after Bruno Fernandes had converted the penalty inside the opening 20 minutes.
However, the game changed dramatically just at half-time when Fernandes restored the advantage for Udinese while Théréau’s goal just before the hour mark helped the club put a lot of distance between them and the title chasing team. Any hope of a comeback came to an end after Higuain received his marching orders for a second yellow card in the 75th minute. Napoli have been unable to score goals in the absence of the former Real Madrid striker and this had a huge consequence on the moral of the team. The loss has allowed Juventus to open a seven-point advantage with seven games left. Despite the sizeable advantage for the reigning champions, Napoli boss Maurizio Sarri is refusing to give up on the title.
“The defeat will make us angry for a day or so but it will also give us enough fuel for the next seven games. No one can point the finger at us because we’re six points behind Juventus. We’re having a great campaign.I have a squad of 25 players who will pick themselves back up and show great determination to finish the season on a high,” said the Napoli manager, who was himself sent to the stands for protesting some of the refereeing decisions in the game.