KAMPALA: Long suffering Napoli fans are to get a true measure of how much progress their team is making in it’s relentless quest to win a first Serie A title since Diego Maradona, Careca and Alemao starred as they lifted the last of two Scudettos in 1990. Unbeaten at home and abroad, Luciano Spalletti’s effervescent Neapolitans know they must subdue Jose Mourinho’s AS Roma at the Stadio Olimpico on Sunday evening if they are to be taken as outright favourites to prevail in a tight title race.
Partenopei faithful are buzzing owing to the outlandish attacking football that has taken the 1989 Uefa Cup winners to the apex of standings in both Serie A and the Champions League. Currently averaging over three goals per match, Napoli are the most exciting team to emerge out of Serie A since Arrigo Sacchi created the great AC Milan side of the late eighties and early nineties.
With only five points separating the Top Six, there is little wriggle room but Spalletti can take heart from his team’s resilience that has already seen the Diego Armando Maradona Stadium based outfit beat direct rivals AC Milan and Lazio. Napoli’s goals are also very well distributed, with Victor Osimhen, Hirving Lozano, Giacomo Raspadori, Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa, Kvicha Kvaratskhelia, Giovanni Simeone, Piotr Zielinski and Politano all regular scorers.
Gian Piero Gasperini’s second placed Atalanta have an equally demanding fixture at home to Maurizio Sarri’s Lazio on Sunday afternoon. Ciro Immobile’s 188 Serie A goals make him the most lethal net buster currently active in the league and his shooting match up with Atalanta trio Duvan Zapata, Luis Muriel and Ademola Lookman will be a keenly followed sideshow.
Juventus boss Massimiliano Allegri is to have one eye on Tuesday’s all important Champions League tie away to Benfica when he selects his starting line up for Friday’s home fixture with Empoli. Bianconeri responded to criticism from club president Andrea Agnelli by overcoming Turin rivals Torino in the city derby but Allegri knows all too well that failure to qualify from a group comprising Benfica and Maccabi Haifa is unacceptable.
Juventus v Empoli
Salernitana v Spezia,
AC Milan v Monza,
Fiorentina v Inter Milan
Udinese v Torino,
Bologna v Lecce,
Atalanta v Lazio,
AS Roma v Napoli
Cremonese v Sampdoria,
Sassuolo v Hellas Verona