Clubs in pursuit of Juventus face important Serie A fixtures

Euro 2016

At present several clubs in Serie A harbour aspirations of challenging Juventus’ domination of the Italian football’s top flight.

Juve engineer the early evolution of a strong title defence

For five successive years, Juve have won the Scudetto, whilst they are currently building a strong title defence.

Of their first ten games, Massimiliano Allegri’s side have won eight and lost two, to establish first place in Serie A two points ahead of Roma, who are amidst a four game winning run.

Whilst Roma are in pursuit of Juventus, so too are Napoli, AC Milan and Lazio, with each of the chasing quartet facing extremely important fixtures, as they aspire to construct sustainable title challenges and prevent La Vecchia Signora from strengthening their lead.

After suffering a 1-0 defeat to AC Milan, Juventus issued an excellent response to that setback by emphatically beating Sampdoria 4-1, as they maintained their 100% home record this season, which the Turin giants will once again aim to defend against third placed Napoli.

Given that they are four points behind Juventus, the game assumes added importance for Napoli’s prospects of establishing themselves as title contenders, since in order to achieve that, they can ill-afford to fall further adrift of the club who have proven to be an indomitable force in Italian football over recent years.

Higuain looks to end four-game goal drought

With a view to maintaining that reputation, Juventus signed Gonzalo Higuain from Napoli for €90m in the summer.  As such the 28-year-old Argentinean striker is set to face his former club for the first time, with Higuain being without a goal in four games since scoring twice in four minutes to help Juventus to a 3-0 away win over Empoli.

Coincidentally it was against the Province of Florence based club that Napoli won their previous Serie A game 2-0, to earn a second successive league victory after beating Crotone 2-1, despite Manolo Gabbiadini being sent off during the first half.  However Partenopei’s victory over Crotone followed a 3-1 home loss to Roma.

Serie A’s most potent attack resides in the Italian capital

That result marked the second game of Roma’s current four game winning run, which they will have the opportunity to extend, when they travel to play Empoli at Stadio Carlo Castellani.  In ten Serie A games this season, Giovanni Martusciello’s side have scored just twice through defenders Giuseppe Bellusci and Andrea Costa.  Whilst Empoli have scored five less goals in Serie A this season than any other side, it is by that same number which Roma are the division’s highest scorers.  Of their 26 goals Edin Dzeko has scored 10.

Although the 30-year-old Bosnian is his club’s leading marksman, Dzeko has not overly burdened the responsibility of scoring Roma’s goals, with that being shared between he and several other players.  Specifically Dzeko’s fellow forwards Diego Perotti and Mohamed Salah have scored three and five Serie A goals respectively, with both Stephen El Shaarawy and Francesco Totti scoring two.

Now in his 25th season with Roma, the 40-year-old Totti remains a key member of the club’s squad, despite being the oldest outfield player in Serie A.

Lazio and Milan:  In a phase of steady progress

Just as Roma are enjoying a fine spell of form, so too are their arch and city rivals Lazio.  Under the guidance of caretaker manager Simone Inzaghi, Lazio have embarked upon a five game unbeaten run to climb from ninth to fifth place.  The last time Lazio were beaten was by fourth placed AC Milan, who suffered a disappointing 3-0 defeat to Genoa in their last Serie A fixture, after impressively beating Juventus 1-0 at the San Siro, courtesy of a pinpoint Manuel Locatelli finish.

That goal propelled Milan to within two points of Juventus and gave I Rossoneri a fifth victory in six Serie A games.  However as a result of losing to Genoa Vicenzo Montella’s side are now five points behind the league leaders.  Therefore in order to remain in relatively close pursuit of Juventus, it is crucial that Milan secure a return to winning ways at home against Pescara.

Since losing to Milan at the San Siro 2-0, of five Serie A games, Lazio have won three and drawn two, with their striker Ciro Immobile playing a vital role for his time during that spell by scoring six goals.  One of those was a 97th minute penalty to earn Lazio a 1-1 against Bologna at the Stadio Olimpico, where the I Biancazzuri will aim to continue their excellent recent run of results when they host Sassuolo.

Quartet aspire to break Juventus’ domination of Serie A

Ultimately although Juventus remain Italy’s strongest team, several other Serie A side are growing in quality and strength, particularly AC Milan, Lazio, Napoli and Roma.  Subsequently each of those clubs face vital fixtures as the quartet aspire to build upon the positive manner in which they have performed during the first quarter of this season to create an intense battle for the Scudetto.

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