Napoli cling to scudetto hopes as Lazio host Juve

24 January 2014 01:32

Napoli host Chievo at the San Paolo on Saturday in the belief the Serie A title is still up for grabs despite leaders Juventus sitting on a comfortable cushion at the top in Italy.

Juventus hold an eight-point lead on second-placed Roma and a 12-point lead on Napoli, and will look to take their lead on the Giallorossi, who face Verona early Sunday, to 11 points.

The Bianconeri have won their last four away games at Lazio and, after 20 games of the season, look to be well on their way to a third consecutive scudetto.

Napoli defender Christian Maggio, however, is not giving up hope of Antonio Conte's men slipping up over the course of their 18 remaining matches.

"A twelve-point deficit to the leaders is a lot but you can never say in football," Maggio told Radio Kiss Kiss.

"Of course Juve look unstoppable at the moment and Roma look to be the team we have a chance of catching. but we can't ever give up."

Gonzalo Higuain has plenty of incentive away to the 'Flying Donkeys'.

The Argentinian striker, who has 10 league goals, can equal the same total (11) after 21 league games as Diego Maradona did on his debut season with Napoli in 1984/85 when the Partenopei claimed a historic league title.

Juventus head to the Olympic Stadium hoping to eclipse what has been an eventful week on and off the park with what would be their ninth consecutive victory away to the Biancocelesti.

Juve's bid to offload striker Mirko Vucinic in a proposed swap deal that would have seen Inter Milan's wantaway Colombian forward Fredy Guarin move the other way collapsed in midweek.

Inter's last minute decision angered Juve only hours before the latter's quarter-final Cup clash away to Roma, which saw the Giallorossi prevail 1-0 thanks to a late Gervinho strike.

Since Tuesday's defeat, both Juve and Inter have been busy explaining their respective sides of the story -- and in the end both players stayed put and Guarin returned to training on Thursday.

Conte, meanwhile, has indicated he would not be holding his customary press conference on Friday, reportedly to protest at the way some of his comments prior to a league game against Sampdoria this month were reported.

It is a long shot, but if there is any degree of unease in the Serie A champions, Lazio will be hoping to capitalise.

Although Lazio suffered 4-0 and 4-1 defeats to Juve in the Supercoppa and league last August, German striker Miroslav Klose hopes a "little luck" can help reverse the trend for the hosts.

"Juventus are a great team and Conte is a great tactician. we have to knuckle down in the next couple of days because we believe we can get something from this game," Klose told Sky Sport Italia.

"The key will be winning our duels. with a little luck we can get a draw, or maybe more."

AC Milan, meanwhile, could do with a healthy dose of luck if they are to achieve their aim of a place in Europe next season.

Clarence Seedorf made a winning start to his career as Milan's new coach last weekend but days later the Rossoneri crashed out of the Italian Cup quarter-finals after a 2-1 home defeat to struggling Udinese.

Cup victory would have given Milan a sure place in next season's Europa League but Milan, seven points behind Inter, now have to claw their way back to a fifth-place finish. Or, in the case of the Champions League, win this season's competition.

After less than a week in the job, Seedorf is already calling for patience: "Like I said before we have a lot of work to do. We'll focus on the job and the results will come.

"After 22 years with some truly great coaches, I know that time brings results. Ideas and work always pay off. We have to be objective and have trust in what we're doing."



Napoli v Chievo (1700 GMT), Lazio v Juventus (1945)


Verona v Roma (1130), Cagliari v Milan, Inter v Catania, Livorno v Sassuolo, Parma v Udinese, Sampdoria v Bologna, Torino v Atalanta (all 1400), Fiorentina v Genoa (1945)

Source: AFP

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