Napoli lead the way with 48 points from 19 games
MILAN: Inter Milan travel to Fiorentina today looking to close the gap on leaders Napoli and Juventus to rekindle their Serie A campaign before the winter break. Inter Milan and Roma lost ground on the leading duo last weekend after both were held and need three points to ensure the leading duo are within sight before a two-week break in the championship. Napoli lead the way with 48 points from 19 games, one point ahead of six-time champions Juventus, with Inter now seven points adrift of top spot in third. Roma-a further two points behind in fourth-host midtable Atalanta tomorrow. Luciano Spalletti’s side face a tricky task at Fiorentina, seventh after being held 1-1 by AC Milan last weekend. Spalletti, who arrived from Roma last season, wants more despite just two losses in the campaign. “I am not happy with my work,” said Spalletti. “I think we’ve done quite well, but are capable of something more. We’ve got to get a move-on in the second half of the season.” Spalletti is counting on leading Serie A scorer Mauro Icardi to lift his side, which suffered back-to-back league defeats followed by an Italian Cup exit to AC Milan. “We have Mauro Icardi, the goal psychologist. He will speak to the team before (Thursday’s) training session and he will help find the solution to more team goals,” added Spalletti.
NAPOLI REFOCUS AFTER CUP EXIT
Napoli turn their focus back to their Serie A campaign against second-from-bottom Verona days after their shock 2-1 Italian Cup exit to Atalanta. Maurizio Sarri was at a loss to explain his side’s flagging performance in the 2-1 home defeat by the side from Bergamo.
“I don’t understand why we can’t perform at the same level as in the league,” said Sarri whose side have lost just once this season to Juventus. “I guess it’s subconscious or perhaps we see some games as less important than others. Either way, it’s a mistake on our part.
“If we play the same way we did in the second half when we go to Bergamo, we’ll struggle again. “We’ll need to be fierce and aggressive.” Juventus host lowly Cagliari boosted by their Italian Cup derby win over Torino. “I said we expected key matches before the break, now we do not throw anything tomorrow,” said coach Massimiliano Allegri.
Torino-whose coach Sinisa Mihajlovic has been sacked after the club’s Italian Cup defeat-host European rivals Bologna. AC
Milan begin their first match of 2018 against Crotone, occupant of the first relegation spot, looking to climb back into the top of the table and their push for European football next season. Sampdoria, in sixth and also targeting the European berths, travel to tailenders Benevento who are looking to build on their first win of the season last weekend. – AFP