Napoli leader and captain Marek Hamsik has said that his team's Serie A match against Juventus will be played as if it were a derby.
The table leaders meet the reigning champions on Friday night at the San Paolo stadium in a match that could have multiple effects on the title race.
Napoli currently top the Serie A with 38 points and are yet to be defeated, while the Bianconeri, who have been somewhat underwhelming by their own high standards this year, have already suffered two defeats and are sitting third.
Friday's clash could be seen one of the defining matches of the year in the Italian league, and Napoli's Hamsik has confirmed its importance.
“It’ll be a great footballing night, against one of the strongest teams,” he told Sky Sport 24 (via Football Italia).
“It’s a derby for me. We’re more compact at the back, we’re conceding fewer goals and that’s important: defence wins championships."
Napoli vs Juventus match should be an explosive match... Napoli progress in the last three years has been wow💪. Juventus seem to need a season of reality— Salaudeen Yusuf (@unitedyusuf) November 27, 2017
Although struggling with form since the beginning of the season, Hamsik has always been considered as an invaluable player for boss Maurizio Sarri, who constantly relies on him when the team needs support.
The Slovakian added: “We’re strong up-front, so if we don't concede goals we always get it done eventually. I want to congratulate Napoli for going 25 games unbeaten.”
Former Napoli striker and then Juventus' main player Gonzalo Higuain will probably be ruled out for the game after undergoing a surgery earlier this week.
On the other hand, one of the Azzurri's best full-backs Faouzi Ghoulam continues his slow recovery from a painful injury to the cruciate ligaments at the beginning of last month.