Juve face key month as Serie A restarts under Covid cloud

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Juventus begin a crucial month for the season with the visit of old rivals Napoli as Serie A returns to action on Thursday, with a Covid-19 resurgence looming large over fixtures. Juve face key month as Serie A restarts under Covid cloudJuventus begin a crucial month for the season with the visit of old rivals Napoli as Serie A returns to action on Thursday, with a Covid-19 resurgence looming large over fixtures.

Dozens of players among the top division’s 20 clubs are out of action with the virus, with Juve captain Giorgio Chiellini one of those sidelined after testing positive and 15 new cases among Verona and Udinese’s squads announced on Tuesday.

And the rapid spread of the virus has led to stadium capacities being cut back to 50 percent as the Italian government tries to keep the lid on another wave of the pandemic.

Napoli coming to town marks the start of a run of tricky fixtures for Massimiliano Allegri’s side, who are fifth, a full 12 points behind league leaders and reigning champions Inter Milan.

They also have to take on Roma, AC Milan and Atalanta — who are four points ahead of Juve in the final Champions League spot — all before mid-February.

Chiellini’s absence and injury to his club and Italy defensive partner Leonardo Bonucci leaves Juve shorn of two of their most influential players, while in attack Paulo Dybala and Federico Chiesa will be on the bench after recovering from injury.

Napoli will arrive in Turin with a long absentee list, largely thanks to players at the Africa Cup of Nations and Covid cases, with coach Luciano Spalletti set to stay at home with Covid after testing positive on Tuesday.

Star striker Victor Osimhen, who has already missed a chunk of fixtures with facial fractures, is also positive alongside Hirving Lozano, Eljif Elmas, Kevin Malcuit and Mario Rui, who is however suspended for Thursday’s match.

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