Serie A: Napoli face test of title credentials against Lazio, Juventus aim to continue revival

It’s nip and tuck at the top of Serie A. Only goal difference is separating Napoli and AC Milan, while the reigning champions Inter Milan are firmly in the title picture. We will give the lowdown on two games this weekend — Napoli v Lazio on Sunday, and Juventus v Atalanta on Saturday evening. We will also take a cursory glance at the latest match odds.

Napoli’s unbeaten run ends at the hands of Inter Milan

After a fabulous start to the Serie A campaign, Napoli tasted their first defeat away to Inter Milan last Sunday. It was a pulsating encounter, and Inter Milan came out on top by clinching a 3-2 victory. Dries Mertens grabbed a consolation 12 minutes from time, and he has now become Napoli’s all-time leading goalscorer with 137 strikes.

Napoli’s defeat came at a further cost, as Victor Osimhen fractured a cheekbone and eye socket, and he will undergo surgery this week. It would be a huge blow if Osimhen is out for a prolonged period, as he is the club’s top scorer with nine goals this season.

Paolo Valeri comes in for scathing criticism after Napoli’s defeat to Inter Milan

It’s never a good sign when the match official grabs the headlines. But the referee Paolo Valeri was roundly criticised by the Italian media after Napoli’s defeat to Inter. Although Valeri tried to let the game flow, he made some mistakes with big decisions. He also awarded eight minutes of injury time at the end of the game, despite there not being that many stoppages.

Lazio still searching for consistency after Juventus defeat

By all accounts, Lazio haven’t had a bad season to date. They are sixth in the table, and they are just four points adrift of the top four. However, defeat to Juventus meant they have won just once in their past five outings. Lazio need to find a level of consistency if they are going to challenge for the top four.

How will Lazio cope without Ciro Immobile?

Ciro Immobile is a linchpin of the Lazio attack. Against Juventus, Lazio were lacking in ideas and bite up front without Immobile who has a calf injury. Maurizio Sarri used Pedro as a false number nine before introducing Vedat Muriqi off the bench. Lazio have to be a bit more creative if they are going to get anything against Napoli.

Juventus trending in the right direction after Lazio victory

Juventus still have some way to go to restore their swagger of old. At times this season, it has been a case of taking a step forward, followed by two steps back. But a 2-0 victory away to Lazio last weekend marked a resurgent Juve. It was perhaps somewhat surprising that Leonardo Bonucci grabbed both goals.

But the Bianconeri can now begin to look up. They are eighth in Serie A, and they are just four points adrift of Saturday’s opponents Atalanta. However, Juve will need to be tighter at the back as they have already conceded 15 times this season, which is alarming for a side who had previously had a vice-like grip on the Scudetto.

But Atalanta have been in form, and they thrashed Spezia 5-2 last weekend. Duvan Zapata grabbed his eighth league goal of the campaign, and Juve will need to keep him quiet if they are going to claim all three points at the Allianz Stadium.

Juventus v Atalanta: Recalling past clashes

Juventus v Atalanta are usually tight affairs if we are to judge this on past encounters. When the sides last met at the Allianz Stadium 11 months ago, the two sides played out a 1-1 draw as Remo Freuler cancelled out Federico Chiesa’s opener for the hosts.

However, Juventus will have fond memories of the Coppa Italia final back in May, as they ran out 2-1 winners, and Chiesa had the last laugh. Holding onto leads has been a problem for Juve this season, and if they can manage the game sensibly, they could get the better of Atalanta.

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