Milan - Juventus and Napoli get back to Serie A basics after
impressive Champions League wins while Inter Milan's league-leading scorer
Mauro Icardi looks to add to his tally away to Roma on Sunday.
Champions Juventus, favourites for a record sixth
consecutive 'scudetto', can feel confident of maintaining their one-point lead
on Napoli at Empoli.
Having limped to a scoreless draw at home to Sevilla,
Massimiliano Allegri's men put four goals past Dinamo Zagreb in a 4-0 Champions
League win on Wednesday that left them top of Group H.
Although veteran Empoli striker Massimo Maccarone has
recovered from a sore back, the Tuscan minnows' usually formidable home form
could be hit by a rash of late injuries to their defence.
Giuseppe Bellusci could now join Vincent Laurini, Andrea
Costa and Federico Barba on a growing injury list.
Also read: Buffon sounds alarm as Juve stutter
Yet the smaller sides in Serie A often find an extra gear
against the Turin giants and Allegri -- who saw Miralem Pjanic, Gonzalo
Higuain, Paulo Dybala and Dani Alves hit the net in the Croatian capital --
"When you have to win, it's never easy," Allegri
said after Tuesday's game in Zagreb.
"The lads did great, but we have to maintain our
concentration and hunger for Empoli."
Despite Juve signing Higuain from Napoli on a 90m euro deal
earlier this summer, the southerners are not suffering from his absence.
Indeed, some believe his departure has liberated Napoli from
Higuain's obsession of breaking Gunnar Nordahl's 66-year-old record of 35 goals
in a single season.
Higuain succeeded with a new tally of 36, but when asked how
Napoli had adapted to life without him, former teammate Dries Mertens said
Wednesday: "We're playing more as a team."
Mertens hit a brace as Napoli swept Benfica aside 4-2 at the
San Paolo to underline their last 16 credentials but, like Allegri, coach
Maurizio Sarri won't let complacency creep in.
Napoli face Atalanta in Bergamo on Sunday, and Sarri said:
"We secured a great win against a top European side (Benfica), but we have
to curb our enthusiasm.
"The reality is we now face Atalanta in Bergamo. We
risk letting our concentration slip, but hopefully this team is mature enough
not to let that happen."
Sarri, who will be without Raul Albiol after the Spanish
centre-back suffered a thigh strain on Wednesday, will be mindful of Napoli's
3-0 defeat to Atalanta in February 2014 when former coach Rafael Benitez was at
Against Benfica, Sarri replaced Albiol with Nikola
Maksimovic and the new Serbian signing is expected to make his full debut on
Upsets for either Juve or Napoli would be welcomed by Inter,
who face Roma looking to shake off the weight of a morale-crushing 3-1 defeat
to Sparta Prague in the Europa League.
Icardi, with six goals in as many league games, was rested
by Inter coach Frank De Boer for most of the fixture in the Czech capital,
where Rodrigo Palacio's late strike was scant consolation for a poor Inter
"By the time we'd decided to start playing in the first
half, we were already two goals down," Inter midfielder Felipe Melo told
"But now is not the time to talk. We have to pull
ourselves together quickly, because up next is Roma."
Roma, sitting fourth at five points behind Juve, are only
one point behind Inter but looking to make amends for a poor display in a 3-1
defeat at Torino last week, where Totti hit his 250th Serie A goal, from the
"The crowd isn't happy with our game and results at the
moment," Roma coach Luciano Spalletti admitted before their 4-0 Europa
League win over Astra on Thursday.For
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