Roma men­tal­ity cru­cial to scud­etto race, says Szczesny

New Straits Times - - Sport -

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.

EPA PIC

Roma’s Radja Naing­golan (right) scores dur­ing their Serie A match against In­ter last Sun­day . Roma won 3-1.

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