It was one of football’s most successful midfield partnerships: on the one hand, the snarling, combative Gennaro Gattuso, and on the other, the thoughtful, elegant, unflappable Andrea Pirlo.
The pair formed the backbone of a memorable AC Milan team for more than a decade and helped Italy win the 2006 World Cup.
On Sunday, the old chums will face each other on the touchline for the first time as Pirlo’s Juventus host Gattuso’s Napoli in Serie A. Napoli has made an impressive start to the season, winning both of its opening games, while Juve, chasing a 10th successive Serie A title, began with a win and a draw.
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While the coaches are good friends, there is no love lost between their teams. More than any other fixture in Italian football, it has come to be seen as a clash between the rich, industrial wealth of the north…