Inter’s title aspirations are fading fast
INTER Milan visit runaway leaders Juventus today in a Serie A classic that may well be their last chance to remain in the race for the title.
The third-placed Nerazzurri clinched a single point from their last two away games, crashing 4-1 at Atalanta and drawing 2-2 at Roma, which dropped them 11 points behind the Turin champions.
Juve’s pace has been impressive, with only two points dropped as they drew 1-1 at home to Genoa in October for a tally of 40 points from 14 games – a league record at this point of the season.
Starring at the Allianz Arena will be home hero Cristiano Ronaldo and Inter captain Mauro Icardi, on 10 and eight goals respectively, when they tackle the league’s two tightest defences – Juve have conceded eight goals, four fewer than Inter.
“We need to go there to look to get the three points, after trying to do so against Roma,” the Nerazzurri’s centre-back Milan Skriniar said. “They’re strong but we have a competitive squad too. Cristiano Ronaldo? It’s tough to mark him but we’re focused on their whole team.”
Closely watching the big match will be Napoli, who lost 3-1 in Turin in late September and sit second with an eight-point gap before a home game with second-bottom Frosinone tomorrow.
“Juve are very strong and consistent but not unreachable,” Napoli boss Carlo Ancelotti told LIVERPOOL will be looking to take top spot in the Premier League as leaders Manchester City travel to Chelsea in the biggest match of the weekend.
Juergen Klopp’s side go to Bournemouth for tomorrow’s early kick-off knowing victory would send them top and put a little pressure on City before they take on Chelsea at Stamford Bridge later in the day.
Neither of the top two sides have dropped a point since they drew 0-0 at Anfield in early October, leaving City two points clear of Liverpool.
Having left Mo Salah and Roberto Firmino on the bench and rested Sadio Mane in the midweek 3-1 win at Burnley, Klopp is likely to rotate his side further for the journey to the south coast. Defender Joe Gomez will miss out with an ankle injury but Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson said the squad simply need to focus on maintaining their best ever start to a top-flight season.
“We are not really interested in City, to be honest, because there is a long way to go,” Henderson said. “We know how good they are, we expect them to win. We just expect ourselves to win games and perform to the level that we have been, and if we do that we can keep winning.”
All Premier League sides face a packed schedule over the Christmas period but Henderson is encouraged by the strength in depth Liverpool have shown in their squad.
“The games are coming thick and fast, a lot of games in a short space of time,” he said. But we showed we can use the squad and still perform to the level we know we are capable of and win games, and that’s a big plus for us.”
City go to Chelsea full of confidence while the hosts have to bounce back after their midweek defeat at Wolves. Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri said City were in a different class to the rest.
“City are the best team in Europe, maybe the best in the world,” he said.
“They can win the Champions League, but that depends on moments. Last season I think they were the best team in the Champions League, but they played two matches not in the best moment of the season.”
City have conceded just seven goals in 15 matches – second only to Liverpool, who have six – and defender Nicolas Otamendi said the entire squad was working together.
“It’s teamwork, not just credit (to) us, the defenders,” he said.
“Conceding very few goals is very important for all of us. Goal difference could be very important at the end of the season.”
LIVERPOOL’S Roberto Firmino came off the bench against Burnley on Wednesday night to score for the title challengers, who romped to a 3-1 victory. He has been key in the Reds’ gameplan, along with defender Virgil van Dijk, right. | Reuters