Roma mentality crucial to scudetto race, says Szczesny
MILAN: On-loan Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny has yet to decide his future but has no doubts about Roma’s approach when they face Napoli looking to stay in Serie A title contention today.
“They will fight for the win and openly challenge us,” Szczesny said.
“But these are games when mentality makes the difference. I like to think that we don’t have to envy our rivals.”
In what is Francesco Totti’s 25th and final season with the capital club, Roma are enjoying yet another tilt at the title Juventus — away to mid-table Udinese tomorrow — have won the past five seasons.
But days after Belgium midfielder Radja Nainggolan hit a spectacular brace to embellish a 3-1 masterclass at outclassed Inter Milan, Roma suffered a 2-0 loss to city rivals Lazio in their Cup semi-final first leg.
Szczesny does not expect coach Luciano Spalletti to panic for a potent Napoli side still reeling from a shock 2-0 home defeat to 10-man Atalanta which virtually ended their hopes of challenging Juventus for the title.
Doubts over the future of Napoli coach Maurizio Sarri have also emerged following a recent spat with owner and president Aurelio De Laurentiis.
That has been compounded by negative results in yet another bleak month of February which saw defeats to Real Madrid in the Champions League, Atalanta in the league and Juventus in the Cup on Tuesday.
Defeat to Atalanta last week left Napoli 12 points adrift of Juve, virtually ending their chances of challenging for a title they last won in 1990.
Juventus will be without injured midfielder Stefano Sturaro for the trip to Udinese due to an ongoing stomach muscle problem.
But with Gonzalo Higuain, Paulo Dybala and Mario Mandzukic all fit, Massimiliano Allegri’s men should have little trouble prevailing against a Udinese side who suffered a 4-0 loss in the corresponding fixture last year.
High-flying Atalanta, only three points behind Napoli in fourth and sitting ahead of Lazio, Inter and AC Milan, welcome Fiorentina looking to keep fans dreaming of Champions League football for yet another week.
Lazio, one point behind Atalanta, will look to build on their impressive display against Roma away to Bologna, who have suffered two defeats and a draw since their 7-1 home rout by Napoli last month.
Inter, now 18 points off the lead, are also six behind Napoli in the third Champions League qualifying spot.
TODAY: Roma v Napoli, Sampdoria v Pescara, AC Milan v Chievo; TOMOR
ROW: Atalanta v Fiorentina, Cagliari v Inter Milan, Crotone v Sassuolo, Empoli v Genoa, Torino v Palermo, Udinese v Juventus, Bologna v Lazio.
Roma’s Radja Nainggolan (right) scores during their Serie A match against Inter last Sunday . Roma won 3-1.