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Icardi doubt as Inter play Serie A catch up


Milan (AFP) – Captain Mauro Icardi is in doubt as Inter Milan look to get their faltering Serie A challenge back on track Saturday at home against Crotone.

Inter’s top scorer Icardi — with 18 goals in 22 Serie A games — suffered a strain to the adductor muscles in his right thigh.

And his injury poses a concern for Luciano Spalletti’s side who are without a win since December 3 with just five points picked up from their last seven games.

Inter were unbeaten until December 16 and are now sitting fourth, occupying the final Champions League spot for next season — 16 points behind leaders Napoli.

The game against Crotone — just above the drop zone — could offer Inter the chance for a precious three points to keep contact with third-placed Lazio.

Inter Milan’s new arrivals Lisandro Lopez from Benfica and Barcelona’s Rafinha could start in Calabria.

Crotone will, however, be looking to push their unbeaten run to a third game with SPAL just behind and Cagliari just ahead going head-to-head Sunday in Sardinia.

In Saturday’s second match, Sampdoria host Torino bidding to keep within touching distance of Lazio, Inter and Roma, who all failed to win last weekend.

Roma are just three points behind Inter in fifth ahead of their trip on Sunday to second-from-bottom Verona.

Eusebio Di Francesco’s side can still count on last season’s top scorer Edin Dzeko who opted against a move to Chelsea.

Goalkeeper Alisson warned that they needed to get back on a positive footing ahead of their Champions League last-16 games.

“Looking ahead we must start immediately to get to the Champions League with confidence and playing our real football,” said the Brazilian.

“What we played against Chelsea and Atletico. We have to go back to being the team we were.”

– Napoli, Juve duel –

At the summit, the duel between leaders Napoli and champions Juventus — separated by just one point — is gaining momentum.

Maurizio Sarri’s Napoli side will be keen to take advantage of their trip to struggling neighbours Benevento, sitting last since the start of the season.

Juventus, just behind in second, host Sassuolo, without a win since before Christmas, but boosted by new arrivals including Uruguayan defender Mauricio Lemos and Senegalese striker Khouma Babacar.

Massimiliano Allegri has injury worries with Paulo Dybala, Juan Cuadrado and Fernando Bernardeschi ruled out.

Douglas Costa should however be part of the forward trident with Gonzalo Higuain and Mario Mandzukic. 

Gianluigi Buffon is back in goal after his heroics on his return from injury in Tuesday’s Italian Cup first leg win.

AC Milan push for a fourth straight Serie A win at Udinese away from the San Siro where they beat Lazio last weekend and were held to a Cup stalemate midweek by the Romans.

Udinese could prove a tricky trip after turning around their season by going unbeaten in eight games to sit ninth.

Lazio host Genoa on Monday.

Fixtures (all times GMT)

Saturday

Sampdoria v Torino (17:00), Inter Milan v Crotone (19:45)

Sunday

Verona v AS Roma (1130), Atalanta v Chievo, Bologna v Fiorentina, Cagliari v SPAL, Juventus v Sassuolo, Udinese v AC Milan (all 1400), Benevento v Napoli (1945) 

Monday

Lazio v Genoa (1945)

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