Milan (AFP) – Inter Milan travel to Cagliari on Saturday looking to take advantage of a tough week of European action for their rivals to move top of Serie A.
Luciano Spalletti’s side — who missed out on European qualification last season — are still unbeaten 13 games into the season.
Inter are second, two points adrift of leaders Napoli who travel to Udinese on Sunday, with champions Juventus four points off the leaders in third before hosting Crotone.
That means Inter have the chance to go top, for Saturday night at least, and Spalletti will be counting on in-form captain Mauro Icardi, who the coach described as “like a raptor pouncing on its prey” after last weekend’s double in a 2-0 win against Atalanta.
Icardi has scored 13 Serie A goals in as many games to attract reported attention from leading European clubs including Real Madrid and Barcelona.
But after a difficult start to the season Cagliari have been gaining in confidence and come into the game fresh from consecutive wins.
Cagliari’s former Inter Milan defender Marco Andreolli believes this could be the “perfect team test” to move up from 13th.
The 31-year-old defender, who left Inter after four seasons in the summer, warned they would give Icardi no space in Sardinia.
“‘Maurito’ makes something from nothing, he seems to be absent but needs only half a ball to change the game,” said Andreolli. “We’ll keep him pinned back to limit his supply.”
Napoli travel north to Udinese — playing their first game under new coach Massimo Oddo — boosted by a 3-0 win over Shakhtar Donetsk which kept their Champions League campaign alive.
– ‘Milan deserves more’ –
Juventus were held to a goalless draw by Barcelona in midweek to stall their advance in Europe and will be looking for a boost against lowly Crotone before next week’s trip to Napoli.
The reigning six-time champions lost just their second game of the season last weekend, going down 3-2 at Sampdoria.
Roma — fourth with a game in hand — travel north to Genoa after their 2-0 Champions League defeat at Atletico Madrid, with Lazio just behind in fifth and hosting mid-table Fiorentina.
AC Milan face a tough test against Torino at San Siro three days after qualifying for the Europa League last 32 with a 5-1 thrashing of Austria Vienna.
“This squad deserves more than it has achieved so far,” said Milan coach Vincenzo Montella of his side who are seventh, just ahead of Torino, and lost 2-1 at Napoli last time out.
“The thing I liked the most was that the team didn’t lose its head after going behind (against Austria Vienna).
“It didn’t get too frenetic in a difficult moment for our season and that gives me the confidence the team believes in what it is doing.”
Elsewhere, Sampdoria travel to Bologna and Chievo host SPAL with bottom team Benevento travelling to Atalanta on Monday still looking for their first points.
Saturday (all times GMT)
Bologna v Sampdoria (1400), Chievo v SPAL, Sassuolo v Verona (both 1700), Cagliari v Inter Milan (1945)
Genoa v AS Roma, AC Milan v Torino, Udinese v Napoli (all 1400), Lazio v Fiorentina (1700), Juventus v Crotone (1945)
Atalanta v Benevento (1945)
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