Bruised Ju­ven­tus, Napoli seek Se­rie A lift

The Jakarta Post - - SPORTS - Em­me­line Moore

Bat­tered Ital­ian heavy­weights Ju­ven­tus and Napoli turn their fo­cus back to the home com­forts of Se­rie A this week­end af­ter open­ing-round flops in the Cham­pi­ons League.

Ju­ven­tus fell 3-0 in Barcelona with Napoli suf­fer­ing a 2-1 loss to Shakhtar Donetsk in Ukraine. Roma’s goal­less draw to Atletico Madrid left Se­rie A sides with just one point be­tween them from the first round of games in the elite Euro­pean com­pe­ti­tion.

“We’re still feel­ing a bit bruised, as you might imag­ine. When you’re used to win­ning and be­ing the best team on the pitch most times you play it’s pretty an­noy­ing to come back af­ter a game like that,” Ju­ven­tus skip­per Gian­luigi Buf­fon told the club’s web­site.

“It’s a good thing to feel an­noyed, though. Great teams and great men prove them­selves by com­ing though tough times.”

Six-time de­fend­ing cham­pion Ju­ven­tus, Napoli and In­ter Mi­lan are all un­beaten in Se­rie A this sea­son with a max­i­mum nine points from three games.

And the trio look set to add an­other three points to their tally as Ju­ven­tus trav­els to strug­gling Sas­suolo; In­ter vis­its lowly Cro­tone and Napoli hosts tailen­der Ben­evento.

Roma — last sea­son’s run­nerup — re­turns to do­mes­tic duty at home against Verona af­ter last week’s trip to Sam­p­do­ria was post­poned due to tor­ren­tial rain in Genoa.

“The match against Sas­suolo on Sun­day is an op­por­tu­nity for us to get go­ing again with re­newed con­fi­dence, to­geth­er­ness and Juve met­tle,” Buf­fon con­tin­ued.

“The Mi­lan sides are on the rise again, Napoli are still Napoli and Roma have changed tac­tics and prob­a­bly have a dif­fer­ent phi­los­o­phy too now with a new sport­ing di­rec­tor.

“It all points to it be­ing an evenly bal­anced ti­tle race, but we’ll find that out at the end. Last year we won the league by a smaller mar­gin than in pre­vi­ous sea­sons af­ter all.”

Italy is rid­ing high though in Europa League with Ata­lanta, AC Mi­lan and Lazio all se­cur­ing wins in the first round of group games.

Ata­lanta — re­turn­ing to Europe af­ter a 26-year ab­sence — romped past English side Ever­ton 3-0 and next travel to Verona club Chievo.

An­dre Silva hit a hat-trick for Mi­lan in a 5-1 vic­tory at Aus­tria Vi­enna to calm nerves af­ter a 4-1 loss last week against Lazio. The Chi­nese-owned Mi­lan club next hosts mid-ta­ble Udi­nese.

“It was im­por­tant to play as a team af­ter Sun­day’s de­feat,” said Mi­lan’s Turk­ish mid­fielder Hakan Cal­hanoglu. “We’ve found our team spirit again.”

Lazio earned a 3-2 come-frombe­hind win over Dutch side Vitesse Arn­hem and next plays at Genoa.

Fiorentina wants to build on its 5-0 win over Verona against Bologna on Satur­day ahead of a mid­week trip to Ju­ven­tus in Turin fol­lowed by Ata­lanta the fol­low­ing week­end.

Torino, which is fifth, takes on Sam­p­do­ria on Sun­day with pro­moted SPAL host­ing Cagliari.

Reuters/Al­bert Gea

Feel­ing blue: Ju­ven­tus’ Gian­luigi Buf­fon looks de­jected af­ter Barcelona’s Li­onel Messi scores the first goal for his team dur­ing their Cham­pi­ons League Group D soc­cer match on Tues­day. Barcelona won 3-0.

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