Juve fear Milan as big guns jostle for top spot
Massimiliano Allegri has warned Juventus to expect a mauling from AC Milan as Serie A resumes on Saturday with just three points separating the top four teams.
After a week overshadowed by accusations of racism and anti-semitism in Italian football – Lazio fans having posted a photo of Anne Frank in a Roma jersey – the focus returns to action on the pitch where all is to play for.
Napoli lead with 28 points after ten days with Inter Milan just two points behind and champions Juventus and Lazio both on 25.
There should be fireworks with Roma sitting fifth and also well in the running with 21 points and a game in hand.
But despite being in close touch with Napoli, Allegri fears Juventus have been far from convincing even with a championship-leading 31 goals scored.
The Juventus boss saw worrying signs during a 4-1 win over SPAL in Turin midweek, which could be exploited by Milan boosted by a 4-1 success at Chievo after three consecutive defeats.
“If we perform like that on Saturday we risk leaving the San Siro with broken bones,” warned Allegri of a classic Serie A clash.
“We’re on a roller coaster. We don’t seem to understand that it’s great to score goals but when we were 2-0, instead of controlling we did everything wrong, allowing (SPAL’s Alberto) Paloschi to get a goal back.”
Vincenzo Montella is fighting to keep his job after a stuttering start sees them in eighth some 12 points off the top despite millions poured into the side by their ambitious new Chinese owners.
But Spanish forward Suso believes this week’s win was a turning point for the former European giants.
“We had a mental block, we needed a win to give us confidence,” said Suso.
Milan will again be without captain Leonardo Bonucci who was red carded last weekend, but Montella wants to see “the real spark”.
“Next Saturday I would like the real spark. I hope the Juve will underestimate us a bit,” he added.
Leaders Napoli travel north to Sassuolo, who are just two points above the relegation zone, looking to keep ahead of Inter Milan who travel to lowly Verona on Monday.
Both Napoli and Inter are unbeaten with solid defenses having conceded just seven goals in ten games.
Roma host Bologna on Saturday without Dutch international Rick Karsdorp, who picked up a ruptured cruciate ligament during the week.
Lazio – fired by league leading striker Ciro Immobile – show no signs of being thrown off course by the racism row over their fans.
The Roman side won in Bologna midweek and Immobile, reportedly the target of a 70 million euro ($81 million) offer from Chinese club Shanghai SIPG, will be hoping to get a few more past tailenders Benevento.
Promoted Benevento have no points – a Serie A record – just three goals scored and 24 conceded.
Fiorentina travel to Crotone looking to gain ground on Sampdoria just above the Tuscany side in sixth and who host Chievo.
Elsewhere, Genoa travel to SPAL, Udinese hosts Atalanta and Torino travel to Cagliari.
Saturday (all times 1300GMT unless stated)
AC Milan v Juventus (1600), Roma v Bologna (1845)
Benevento v Lazio (1030), Sampdoria v Chievo, SPAL v Genoa, Napoli v Sassuolo, Udinese v Atalanta, Crotone v Fiorentina, Torino v Cagliari (1845)
Verona v Inter Milan (1845)
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