MILAN (Reuters) - Serie A have hit back at Napoli coach Maurizio Sarri after he complained about a “gigantic mistake” in the fixture list, saying that the league leaders had been scheduled to play after title rivals Juventus in upcoming matches. Napoli went first this weekend, beating Atalanta 1-0 away on Sunday to go four points clear of Juventus, who host Genoa on Monday. But Juve, aiming for a seventh successive title, will go first from next weekend until mid-March. “(The league) could compromise and make us play at the same time, or allow us to play some of our games before them,” Sarri told reporters after Sunday’s game.
“I‘m sure this was done in good faith but you wonder about the capabilities of whoever decides these things,” he said. “It’s a gigantic mistake.”
Serie A has published its fixtures schedule for the next seven rounds of matches. Next weekend, the Turin side will visit Chievo on Saturday before Napoli host Bologna on Sunday.
On the weekend of Feb. 3-4, Juventus play on Sunday afternoon with Napoli taking to the field the same evening, and on the weekend after that, Juve play on Friday and Napoli on Saturday.
On Feb 18, Juventus play at midday and Napoli in the afternoon and on the following weekend, Juventus play on Sunday and Napoli a day later.
Juventus play in the early evening on March 3 followed by Napoli in the late match, while on March 11, Juventus play in the afternoon and Napoli in the evening.
Serie A replied in a statement that in the first half of the tournament, Napoli had gone first in 14 of the 19 rounds of matches.
It said that Juve had been allotted Friday or Saturday matches to give them more time to prepare for matches in the Champions League and Coppa Italia. Napoli have been knocked out of both competitions and can concentrate exclusively on Serie A.
“The arrangement of Serie A fixtures is connected to the cup competitions which is why Juventus... are obliged to play some matches on the Saturday, ahead of Napoli,” it said.
“The teams at the top of the table are the ones which create the most interest in the championship which is why they never play at the same time.” Sarri made a similar complaint last season, arguing that when Juventus won their games, it put added pressure on Napoli who found themselves playing catchup.
Writing by Brian Homewood in Bern; Editing by John O'Brien