Juventus taking aim at Napoli lead - Gianluigi Buffon
Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon says Napoli fully deserve to be at the top of Serie A, although he is hoping to knock them off their perch on Sunday.
The Azzurri hold a two-point advantage over the Bianconeri heading into Sunday's top-of-the-table clash which few people would have been predicting as such after the two teams first met this season back in September.
Napoli won that game 2-1 to take them to tenth in the standings, six points adrift of the early-season pacesetters Inter. Juve were a further four points behind, just two clear of the relegation zone.
"We were both in an embryonic phase when we first met this season," Buffon said in interviews with Sky Sport Italia and Mediaset, summarised on the Italian club's website. "Everybody was writing us off, which was only normal. Maybe they were underestimating our technical value and our morale, which have led us to do what we have done in these four years, and what we are doing again now."
"Winning the title for a fifth time in a row would be a dream, given the size of the task. It was unthinkable to predict we would win 14 in a row after such a difficult start."
While Massimiliano Allegri's men have won their last 14 in a row, Napoli are on their own eight-game winning streak, which is why they are first and second heading into Sunday's Juventus Stadium clash, and justifiably so, according to Buffon.
"After several years in the second row, now they have been up there for a long time and they deserve to be there," Buffon said of his side's opponents. "They have everything it takes to confirm their status too.
"They want to prove that being top is just a logical consequence of the hard work they have done. I think both sides will play to win and if Napoli succeed, they will gain a decent advantage with 13 games left. For us, [winning] would not change much other than boost our morale because winning would be the cherry on top of this 14-game marathon of wins."
One of the most intriguing battles this weekend will be between the two Argentinians currently at the top of the scoring chart: Napoli's Gonzalo Higuain, 28, with 24 goals and Paulo Dybala, 22, with 13.
"They both have different characteristics," Buffon said. "One is more of a finisher; a true goalscorer -- Higuain has already shown down the years that he's a phenomenal striker, in spite of a few moments when he was being criticised.
"Paulo's class is outstanding and he's got huge margin for improvement. He plays more between the midfield and the attack."