Soccer-Juve and Inter continue game of cat-and-mouse at top of Serie A


Soccer Football - Serie A - Juventus v Inter Milan - Allianz Stadium, Turin, Italy - November 26, 2023 Juventus' Dusan Vlahovic celebrates scoring their first goal with Andrea Cambiaso REUTERS/Massimo Pinca/ File photo

(Reuters) - The game of cat-and-mouse at the top of Serie A continues this weekend when Juventus can go top once again with a win over Napoli on Friday before Inter Milan take on Udinese on Saturday.

Inter still lead the way in what is increasingly looking like a two-horse race for the title, with Juventus, two points behind, now matching them stride for stride.

The last eight rounds of games have seen both sides win six and draw two, and that includes the 1-1 stalemate they played out when they met in Turin two weeks ago.

In the opening 14 games, Inter and Juve have suffered just one defeat, both losing to Sassuolo. They have both drawn at home to Bologna, meaning the only difference between them so far is Juve's draw at Atalanta, whereas Inter came away with a win.

Now Juventus must follow in Inter's footsteps by winning their clash with last season's Scudetto winners Napoli. Inter put paid to any hopes of Napoli mounting a title defence under new manager Walter Mazzarri with a 3-0 win in Naples on Sunday.

That left Napoli 11 points adrift of the leaders, and even the most optimistic fan must surely admit defeat at this point, leaving AC Milan as the only side who could possibly challenge the top two, but they have a six point deficit to make up.

Juve need to be wary, however, of Napoli's impressive away form this season. Their defeat at home to Inter last weekend was their fourth league loss in Naples this season, but on the road in Serie A they are unbeaten in seven games.

In those seven games they have won five, and their 17 point haul away from home is second only to Inter, who have two points more from their travels.

Juventus have captain Danilo back, the Brazilian defender came on as a substitute in last weekend's 2-1 win over Monza after missing the previous five games, and looks set to start against Napoli.

A win for Juventus over Napoli would again put pressure on Simone Inzaghi's Inter when they host Udinese the following day.

Udinese have already won at the San Siro this season, a 1-0 win over AC Milan in Gabriele Cioffi's second game in charge after he replaced Andrea Sottil.

That was Udinese's only win this season, but they have lost just four and it has been their nine draws, the most of any side in Serie A, that has kept them out of the relegation places. They are in 16th place, two points above the danger zone.

Milan travel to face Atalanta on Saturday, looking for their third consecutive league win to keep them in touch with the top two, while Atalanta are on a four game winless streak and have lost three of the last four.

That poor run has seen them slip from fourth place down to eighth in the standings, and they find themselves nine points adrift of Milan.

AS Roma's three wins from four has taken them up to fourth and Jose Mourinho's side host Fiorentina on Sunday, who are just one point behind in the table.

(Reporting by Trevor Stynes; Editing by Christian Radnedge)

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