ROME (dpa) – Serie A champions Juventus and cup winners Napoli are to meet at the Italian Super Cup in Doha on Monday, with each hoping to bring the trophy home and into a short break for the festive season.
Both sides rehearsed with league victories Thursday before leaving chilly Italy for the warm Quatari capital. Leaders Juve won 3-1 at Cagliari while third-placed Napoli saw off bottom club Parma 2-0.
“We secured our first target of the season by qualifying for the Champions League last 16,” Juve coach Massimiliano Allegri said. “Now it is time for our second target. The Super Cup is a tournament we all want to win.”
After three straight Serie A titles won under Antonio Conte, there is suspicion that the Bianconeri could lack the focus to lift a third Super Cup, but Allegri reassured fans, saying he does not believe that Napoli are hungrier than Juve.
“I do not think Napoli’s only aim is to lift the Super Cup,” Allegri said. “I think they will try to get back into the title race if possible, or if not battle for third place, which I think is an important target for the teams in the mix. It gives you a place in the Champions League play-offs.”
The Naples side seek revenge from a 4-2 defeat against the Bianconeri in the 2012 edition played in Beijing. Their only success came in 1990, when they won the league and hammered Juve 5-1 in the Super Cup.
“It is important to play at our best and we will try to give our maximum,” Napoli coach Rafael Benitez said. “To me, the next game is always the most important. In this case, the Super Cup against Juve will be the most important of 2014.”
The Spanish coach is to pick a starting striker between the seemingly fatigued Gonzalo Higuain, who was fielded sparingly lately, and the improving Colombian Duvan Zapata who has scored three of his four Serie A goals in his his last four appearances.
Benitez said that Higuain “is a fundamental player for us. But Duvan is playing so well that it is easier to alternate them. Higuain is a champion and he can always make the difference, but we knew that Duvan could do well.”
Leading Juve’s attack is Argentine Carlos Tevez, who tops the scorers table of the Serie A on 10 goals, three more than compatriot Higuain.
Monday’s game in Doha is the seventh Super Cup played outside Italy, following Washington 1990, Tripoli 2002, New York 2003 and three editions in Beijing 2009, 2011 and 2012.