Soccer-Perfect Inter take on pointless Empoli

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Serie A - Inter Milan v AC Milan - San Siro, Milan, Italy - September 16, 2023 Inter Milan's Lautaro Martinez celebrates after the match REUTERS/Daniele Mascolo/File Photo

(Reuters) - Inter Milan's derby demolition of AC Milan last weekend saw them pull clear at the top of the Serie A table and they look to continue their perfect start to the season at Empoli on Sunday.

That 5-1 Inter victory left Milan trailing by three points in the standings, with Juventus now in second place, two points off the leaders.

A trip to bottom-of-table Empoli looks like the perfect chance to make it five wins from five games for Inter, while Empoli will hope their change of manager can bring a quick turnaround in fortunes.

Empoli were thumped 7-0 at AS Roma on Sunday, which led to them sacking Paolo Zanetti on Tuesday. Aurelio Andreazzoli was appointed to replace him, his fourth spell at the club.

Empoli and Inter have had polar opposite starts to this season. While Inter sit on maximum points, Empoli have failed to gain a single point from their opening four games.

Inter are the league's top scorers with 13 goals while Empoli have yet to find the net and, whereas Inter also have the best defence with just one goal conceded, Empoli have conceded 12.

Even in their last Scudetto-winning season, Inter did not get off to such a good start. In 2020/21 they won only two of their opening four fixtures, and lost the derby game with Milan.

Now, they look set to continue their perfect beginning and, with goals flying in, Empoli have every reason to worry. Lautaro Martinez already has five goals to his name, even without scoring in the win over Milan.

When Inter travelled to Tuscany to take on Empoli last season, they came away with a 3-0 win. On that occasion Romelu Lukaku scored twice, but the Belgian's departure from the club does not seem to have lessened their attacking power.

Marcus Thuram bagged his second goal of the season in the derby win, the new signing clearly already settling in well at Inter.

Empoli's only hope could be a tired Inter after their midweek trip to Spain for the Champions League tie with Real Sociedad.


An unlikely slip-up from Inter could allow an unbeaten Juventus in as leaders. They travel to Sassuolo, a side who have lost three out of four games, on Saturday.

Milan drew 0-0 with Newcastle United in the Champions League on Tuesday and hope to continue their recovery from the derby embarrassment on Saturday when they welcome Hellas Verona to the San Siro.

Milan could be without keeper Mike Maignan, who left the pitch with a thigh strain in the first half of the game with Newcastle.

Lazio are also in action on Saturday, hoping to bounce back from the 3-1 defeat at Juventus last weekend. Lazio have earned just three points so far, from their win over Napoli, and they host a Monza side who are one point ahead in the table.

Defending champions Napoli are already five points adrift of Inter. After their draw at Genoa last time out, they travel to Bologna on Sunday.

AS Roma are away to Torino on Sunday while Lecce, the surprise package so far, host Genoa on Friday. They are one of only three unbeaten sides in Serie A this season, alongside Inter and Juventus.

For the first time in their history, this season Lecce managed to win their opening Serie A game of the campaign, when they defeated Lazio.

(Reporting by Trevor Stynes; editing by Clare Fallon)

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