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Roma see chance for gap as Juve host Napoli
Leaders Roma host Serie A new boys Sassuolo on Saturday in a bid to get back to winning ways, but with one eye understandably on what happens a day later when Juventus host Napoli.
Roma dropped their first points of the season last week when a 1-1 draw away to Torino stopped the Giallorossi's new record for consecutive wins at the start of the new season at 10.
Napoli and Juventus are now three points adrift in second and third respectively, although one, or both, could fall victim after their clash in Turin late on Sunday.
Inter Milan, six points further adrift in fourth, would welcome any slip-ups ahead of hosting Livorno at the San Siro, where new club owner Erick Thohir could make his first appearance in front of the club's fans, according to recent reports.
City rivals AC Milan, meanwhile, are away at Chievo in a clash they need to win if the current management are to avoid an enforced reshuffle.
A week after their perfect start was ended by Torino, Roma midfielder Miralem Pjanic has called for a win against Sassuolo that would offer some breathing space during next week's break for international friendlies.
"We've got Sassuolo up next before the break and we want to stay top. We will fight all the way for a place in the top three," said the Bosnian.
A draw between Juventus and Napoli a day later, would also not go amiss.
"It would be a good result for us, but let's see what happens," added Pjanic. "First we have to make sure of our own three points, but obviously we want to pull further ahead."
Napoli's visit to Juventus Stadium is the highlight this weekend and the sides meet only days after largely positive results in the Champions League.
Juventus relaunched their knockout phase bid thanks to a 2-2 draw at home to Real Madrid which, although leaving them bottom of Group B, keeps them within touching distance of Galatasaray and FC Copenhagen.
Rafael Benitez's Napoli will take plenty of confidence to Turin in the wake of a 3-2 win over Marseille which boosted their last 16 hopes.
Juve will be without midfielder Stephan Lichsteiner and striker Mirko Vucinic, who are both still injured, meaning Carlos Tevez and Fernando Llorente could start up front after their solid display against Real.
Giorgio Chiellini will return to coach Antonio Conte's back three, having missed the Real clash due to suspension.
Fellow defender Leonardo Bonucci said: "We have home advantage and we need to make the most of it."
Milan's Serie A campaign -- for the second year consecutively prior to the winter break -- is going from bad to worse.
Reports in midweek even suggested vice-president Barbara Berlusconi, the daughter of club owner Silvio Berlusconi, had threatened a clear-out of top management.
Whether that had a knock-on effect in the squad is hard to tell but it came days before a 3-1 Champions League defeat away to Barcelona, where Allegri left Mario Balotelli on the bench for the first half.
Although their second place in Group H is now under threat from Ajax, the seven-time European champions at are at least still in contention -- which might not be the case next season given they are already 16 points off the Champions League places in 11th.
"We will get through this difficult period," Ghana midfielder Sulley Muntari told Milan Channel.
"It won't be easy away to Chievo but we have to go there believing we can win."
Catania v Udinese (1700), Inter v Livorno (1945)
Genoa v Verona (1130), Atalanta v Bologna, Cagliari v Torino, Chievo v Milan, Parma v Lazio, Roma v Sassuolo (all 1400), Fiorentina v Sampdoria, Juventus v Napoli (both 1945)
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