(Reuters) – Early Serie A pace-setters Napoli will be high on confidence on the back of four straight victories in all competitions, but the toughest challenge might still be ahead as they travel to meet current champions AC Milan on Sunday.
Luciano Spalletti’s side will also be buoyed by their away record against second-placed Milan as they look to inflict a third straight defeat on them at the San Siro for the first time since 1979.
“Milan are a great team, we now need to recover and then go there to play our game, just as we did tonight. This is our path, we are sure of what we are doing and must continue like that,” said Spalletti, whose side beat Rangers 3-0 in the Champions League on Wednesday.
Milan will be without the injured Ante Rebic and Divock Origi, leaving manager Stefano Pioli with only Olivier Giroud as a central striker but he downplayed the duo’s absence.
“There are a few key players missing… rotation is lacking. I have able players, however, and I’m not worried after a good start to the season,” Pioli said.
A fifth victory in seven matches would keep Napoli top of the table provided Atalanta do not beat Jose Mourinho’s fifth-placed AS Roma by a big scoreline to overtake them on goal difference.
Atalanta are the surprise package of the early season and meet fifth-placed AS Roma on a blockbuster Serie A weekend where the top six teams, separated by two points, all face each other.
Sixth-placed Inter Milan will take on Udinese, who are two spots above them in the table and building solid momentum with four straight victories.
Inter rested several key players in their 2-0 Champions League victory over Viktoria Plzen on Tuesday with Edin Dzeko proving to be an able replacement for the injured Romelu Lukaku by scoring one and grabbing an assist.
“The team are growing and I need everyone available. We’ve been without Lukaku, but when Dzeko produces such performances, he can recover in a calm manner.”
Juventus will look to close the gap on the top six when they face Monza, who sacked their coach Giovanni Stroppa and replaced him with Raffaele Palladino.
Juve’s loss to Benfica in the Champions League on Wednesday was a blow to morale, but the return from injury of Angel Di Maria will offer some hope for the team who have started the season disappointingly.
(Reporting by Tommy Lund in Gdansk; Editing by Toby Davis)