Wounded Serie A champions Inter Milan face the second major threat to their Serie A title defence in a week when they travel to Napoli on Saturday, as one of Europe’s tightest title races heats up.
Simone Inzaghi’s side lost 2-1 to third-placed AC Milan last weekend, and Napoli’s victory at Venezia narrowed the gap between the top three to one point.
Inter still have the edge, sitting top by a point with a game in hand, but the pressure is on to get a result in Naples, where defeat could mean a slide to third place.
Juventus, who are on a 10-match unbeaten run and now boast Serie A’s joint-top scorer Dusan Vlahovic, are creeping up in Inter’s rear-view mirror, eight points off top, ahead of their key top-four clash with Atalanta.
Inter looked poised to cruise to the title as they put together a 14-match unbeaten league run, before Milan’s derby win changed the complexion of the table.
The champions bounced back with a commanding 2-0 Coppa Italia quarter-final win over AS Roma, but they travel to Naples with coach Inzaghi and defender Alessandro Bastoni suspended.
In contrast, Napoli are almost at full strength, with Cameroon midfielder Andre Zambo Anguissa and Senegal’s newly-crowned African champion Kalidou Koulibaly back from the Africa Cup of Nations.
The return of two key players, combined with striker Victor Osimhen’s recovery from injury, have bolstered hopes that the Neapolitan side could clinch their first Serie A crown since the Diego Maradona-inspired 1989-90 season.
“We have a lot of objectives and one is to win the league. Step by step, with determination, we can do it,” Osimhen said after Napoli’s fourth league win in a row in Venice.
Milan will be paying close attention to the game at the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona, before they host Sampdoria in the Sunday lunch-time kickoff.