Serie A preview: Title chasers AC Milan, Napoli aim to rejuvenate form

Out-of-form title chasers AC Milan and Napoli face off in Serie A on Sunday with both looking to prove their good starts to the season were not a flash in the pan.

Milan and Napoli went unbeaten in the first 12 games of the Serie A season, with the duo threatening to pull away from the chasing pack at one point.

However, since Fiorentina beat Milan and champion Inter Milan brought Napoli’s unbeaten start to an end, both teams have really struggled for form, with Inter sneaking in to climb to the top of the standings.

Milan has won two of its last six league matches, while Napoli has fared even worse, losing three of its previous five Serie A games, including a shock 1-0 defeat to Empoli last weekend.

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“The Milan game is a great opportunity for us because we can fix a few things,” Napoli coach Luciano Spalletti told reporters after the Empoli defeat.

“Finally, we have a full week of training ahead. Some players have played many games. Those who returned from COVID are not in shape.”

Both clubs are suffering with injuries to key players ahead of Sunday’s San Siro encounter, which has contributed to their indifferent form.

Victor Osimhen, Fabian Ruiz, Kalidou Koulibaly and Stanislav Lobotka are confined to the Napoli treatment room, while Ante Rebic, Simon Kjaer, Olivier Giroud and Rafael Leao are all long-term absentees for Milan.

Inter have a chance to lay down an early weekend marker when they travel to bottom side Salernitana on Friday.

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The champion’s steady start to the season was overshadowed by the exploits of Milan and Napoli this term, but a run of five successive wins has propelled them to the top of the pile, two games before the winter break.

Things have not quite been going so well for Juventus, who is seventh in the standings, 12 points behind leader Inter.

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Wastefulness in front of goal remains a major problem for Juve. Serie A’s most successful side had 20 shots against Venezia last Saturday but only managed to find the net once, with the promoted team earning a draw in the second half.

One positive for Juve is that Paulo Dybala’s injury that forced him off in Venice is not as bad as first feared, with the Argentine striker in contention to start in Saturday’s trip to Bologna.

Elsewhere on Saturday, Serie A’s other in-form side, Atalanta, hosts Jose Mourinho’s AS Roma looking to make it seven league wins in a row.

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