Juventus coach Maurizio Sarri said he expects an emotional return to his former club Napoli on Sunday as Lazio and Roma prepare for a derby clash in Serie A after both capital-city sides exited the Italian Cup during the week.
Sarri missed Juventus’ home game against Napoli with pneumonia in August and Sunday’s game at the Stadio San Paolo will be his first since leaving the club in 2018 before his move to Chelsea.
“It will be a tremendously difficult game, emotionally it will be particularly special. My relationship with Naples and above all the city was strong,” said Sarri, after Juve reached the Italian Cup semifinals with a 3-1 win over Roma on Wednesday.
Juventus are top of the league with a four-point lead on second-placed Inter Milan, but Napoli – Serie A runners-up in the past two seasons – are struggling in 11th position, 14 points off the Champions League places.
“We must not look at their position in the table,” Sarri continued. “They have a strong team. They are going through a difficult time but have good players.
“There are three points at stake.”
Napoli lost 4-3 in the reverse fixture this season.
But the team are a shadow of the eye-catching side Sarri left in May 2018 to be replaced by Carlos Ancelotti.
Ancelotti helped the team maintain their runners-up position last campaign but was replaced at the troubled side by Gennaro Gattuso last month.
Gattuso has lost four of his five Serie A games in charge and the club have not won at home in the league since October 19.