MILAN: The title credentials of champions Juventus come under fresh scrutiny in the ‘Derby d’Italia’ where a win for Inter Milan could see Roberto Mancini’s men go 11 points clear of the Old Lady.
A difficult start to the campaign has seen Juventus slump 10 points adrift of leaders Fiorentina and eight behind second-placed Inter.
The Nerazzurri have not beaten Juventus at the San Siro since their treble-winning season of 2010. But an Inter win would leave Juventus 11 points adrift, possibly too much for the Turin giants to maintain hopes of a fourth consecutive scudetto, admits Juve defender Andrea Barzagli.
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“It’s still early in the season but if Inter go 11 points ahead, it becomes problematic for us,” said Barzagli.
The Italy international would do well to keep a close eye on Inter striker Mauro Icardi, who has hit six goals against Juventus in five games, three of which came while playing for former club Sampdoria.
Inter’s only shock of the season was a 4-1 defeat by Fiorentina, the thrashing serving as a painful reminder to Mancini’s men not to take their promising start for granted.
Napoli, Fiorentina out to prove title credentials
Napoli and Fiorentina have joined Roma and Inter in throwing down the gauntlet and the credentials of both could become clearer when they kick off in the pick of Sunday afternoon’s fixtures.
Read: Inter look to widen gap over Juventus
Fiorentina’s unassuming start under new coach Paulo Sousa has been ultimately promising but Napoli, league runners-up in 2013, are beginning to purr.
Napoli’s 4-0 away rout of AC Milan a fortnight ago came with a brace from Lorenzo Insigne and, after he missed Italy’s Euro 2016 qualifiers with a sore knee, the little winger is expected to return to the fold.
It will be Napoli’s first home game since their San Siro feat, but winger Elsed Hysaj said they won’t be taking Fiorentina lightly.
“Fiorentina aren’t top of the league for nothing, but we’re coming off a really good run of games and we’re determined to keep that going,” said the Albanian international.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 18th, 2015.
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