Napoli fights back, Juventus stumbles, and suddenly there's a Serie A title race again

Napoli’s Arkadiusz Milik scored his side’s winner against Udinese as Juventus stumbled to a draw in Serie A. (Reuters)
Napoli’s Arkadiusz Milik scored his side’s winner against Udinese as Juventus stumbled to a draw in Serie A. (Reuters)

There have been several moments over the past two months that felt like Serie A tipping points. Several saves, goals, games or weekends that seemed to set the title race on its way back toward the status quo – away from Napoli, toward Juventus, and in the direction of the rest of the major European leagues. Toward boredom.

And for a while, Wednesday night felt like another one. Rather, it felt like the decisive one. Early in the second half of simultaneous games, Napoli trailed Udinese 2-1 at home; Juventus led 1-0 at Crotone, and was on course for a victory that, if both results held, would have taken the six-time defending champs nine points clear with five matches remaining. It surely would have locked up a seventh consecutive Italian crown.

But then, all at once, the script swerved. In a span of just over 10 minutes, Crotone equalized on Simy’s bicycle kick.

Napoli did likewise, then went on to grab two more goals to claim all three points.

In those 10-plus minutes, the gap between first and second at the top of Serie A shrunk from nine points to four. Juve couldn’t find a second goal, and failed to win for just the third time since mid-November.

More importantly, it failed to win in one of the easier fixtures remaining on its docket. Juve now takes that relatively slender four-point lead into a stretch of games that includes Napoli at home, Inter away and Rome away.

A Napoli win this Sunday (2:45 ET), therefore, could slash the gap to one. Suddenly, the Serie A title race is back on again.

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Henry Bushnell covers global soccer, and occasionally other ball games, for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Question? Comment? Email him at or follow him on Twitter @HenryBushnell.

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