Juventus go to Sassuolo as AS Roma remain defiant
Champions Juventus travel to struggling Sassuolo on Saturday looking to maintain their lead at the top of Serie A, while nearest challengers Roma insist the fight for the title has just begun.
Rome: Champions Juventus travel to struggling Sassuolo on Saturday looking to maintain their lead at the top of Serie A, while nearest challengers Roma insist the fight for the title has just begun.
Juventus moved three points clear at the summit two weeks ago after a bad-tempered 3-2 win over Roma in Turin which saw the Bianconeri concede their first goals of the campaign.
Despite their defeat, Roma goalkeeper Morgan De Sanctis insists the top-of-the-table clash showed Massimiliano Allegri`s men the capital club are a force to be reckoned with as they prepare to host Chievo on Saturday.
"We don`t want to finish second, we want to win (the league). We can do it, we realised that after seeing their reaction," De Sanctis said in an interview with Gazzetta dello Sport on Thursday.
Almost a fortnight after an explosive encounter that saw five goals, three penalties and two red cards as well as the sending-off of Roma coach Rudi Garcia, the dust has yet to settle.
De Sanctis on Thursday repeated allegations, notably by Giallorossi captain Francesco Totti, that Juventus benefit from favourable refereeing decisions.
"You have to know how to lose, but it is hard to accept certain decisions when you have the feeling you`re not playing on an equal footing," said the `keeper, who played for Juve at the start of his career.
While the champions have steadfastly rejected the accusations, Juve defender Angelo Ogbonna went on the charm offensive when he told Sky Sport: "We don`t underestimate any of our opponents.
"Roma are a top side, they`ve done well in the transfer market with a view to the Champions League."
Both Roma and Juve are expected to rest key players whenever possible this weekend ahead of midweek Champions League clashes against Bayern Munich and Olympiakos respectively.Inter host Napoli in the pick of Sunday`s fixtures when home coach Walter Mazzarri will be firmly in the spotlight.
Mazzarri steered Napoli to a runners-up spot in 2013 but has struggled to work his magic with the Nerazzurri, who recently dropped to 10th place following consecutive defeats to Cagliari (4-1) and Fiorentina (3-0).
Inter`s recent woes prompted club president Erick Thohir to demand affirmative action, and French midfielder Yann M`Vila said the Indonesian tycoon`s message had been loud and clear.
"Yes, we certainly got the president`s message," M`Vila told Sky Sport during the international break last week.
"The mental approach is something we have to work out between us, within the team. Next we`ll play against Napoli at home and we absolutely have to win; for ourselves, for our morale, and to stay on course this season."
Rafael Benitez`s Napoli will feel confident of causing an upset at the San Siro on Sunday having strung two consecutive wins together following a three-game winless run.
The visitors` cause will not be harmed by Inter`s growing injury list. Striker Pablo Daniel Osvaldo is out for a month, joining a casualty list that already includes defender Danilo D`Ambrosio.
Mazzarri also has doubts over the availability of Jonathan and influential Croatian midfielder Mateo Kovacic, as well as Japanese wing-back Yuto Nagatomo, Gary Medel and Fredy Guarin.
City rivals AC Milan travel to Verona looking to make it two wins out of two against sides from the northern city, having accounted for Chievo 2-0 at the San Siro a fortnight ago.
Coach Filippo Inzaghi has been bolstered by `keeper Diego Lopez`s return to training following a thigh injury suffered in a 5-4 win away to Parma a month ago.
Milan, however, could be without influential French forward Jeremy Menez, who did not train with the main squad on Thursday as he continues to recover from a groin injury.
Menez`s possible absence could pave the way for rarely-used striker Stephan El Shaarawy to come into the side.
Fixtures (all kick-offs 1300 GMT unless stated)
Roma v Chievo (1600), Sassuolo v Juventus (1845)
Fiorentina v Lazio (1030), Atalanta v Parma, Cagliari v Sampdoria, Verona v Milan, Palermo v Cesena, Torino v Udinese, Inter v Napoli (1845), Genoa v Empoli (1845)