Anger drives Napoli title chase
Serie A contenders Napoli said the anger of last week's defeat to Juventus will be used to relaunch their bid to stay in touch with the champions on Saturday when they host struggling Chievo.
Until last week Napoli, arguably one of the flair teams of the season in Italy so far this campaign, had been the only other team along with Juventus to stay unbeaten.
However it was a comparatively tame Napoli side that turned up at Juventus Stadium, and they paid for their lack of bite with a 2-0 defeat that allowed Juve to finally open up a three-point gap at the top of the table.
On paper, Walter Mazzarri's side, which boasts the goalscoring talents of the league's top scorer Edinson Cavani and fellow forwards Marek Hamsik and Goran Pandev, look too strong for visiting Chievo.
Although they have not dominated the Verona side in recent seasons they won the corresponding fixture 2-0 last year although they will head into the match on the back of a 3-1 Europa League loss to Dnipropetrovsk on Thursday.
Chievo visit the San Paolo stadium without the injured quartet of Lorenzo Squizzi, Gennaro Sardo, Alberto Paloschi and Paul Papp while Napoli will be at full strength.
Hamsik said last week's defeat will not be forgotten.
"This defeat will only channel our anger for the games to come," said the Czech, who is known for his lively style as much for his distinctive Mohican-style haircut.
"We start against Chievo, that will be important."
A slip-up by Napoli, who are second on 19 points, would inevitably spread joy to Lazio, who are only one point behind and travel to Fiorentina on the back of a four-game winning streak in all competitions.
Fiorentina at home, however, is not an easy task for any visiting team and La Viola will be doubly determined following a draw away to a physical Chievo side last week.
Juventus, meanwhile, had little chance to savour taking over sole charge of the league in the wake of the win against Napoli.
The Old Lady of Turin may be a giant in Italy, but the team were held in the Champions League by Danish champions Nordsjaelland 1-1 in midweek. So far, Juve are without a win in Europe's premier club competition.
Antonio Conte's side remain, however, unbeaten after 47 games – a run which goes all the way back to May 2011.
Ahead of their trip to Catania, who sit seventh with three wins in eight games, captain and keeper Gianluigi Buffon believes Juve are flying given the turbulence at the club in the run-up to last season.
"It's a magnificent run, especially considering the question mark hanging over all of our heads 14 months ago," Buffon told juventus.com.
"Instead, we've been able to build something unique in this period of time. I don't think that any team has managed to do the same as we have after two seventh-placed finishes."
AC Milan meanwhile host Genoa at the San Siro Saturday knowing they must turn their fortunes around if they are to have any hopes at all in Serie A this season.
Milan's 1-0 Champions League defeat to Malaga Wednesday was their sixth defeat in 11 games in all competitions, and the rumour mill already claims the club have contacted former player Frank Rijkaard to replace coach Massimiliano Allegri.
Allegri – who led Milan to the league title in 2011 and a runner-up place behind Juventus last year – said he is not throwing in the towel.
"I'm not quitting, absolutely not," said Allegri. "It's not my style to quit, and I have a lot of the faith in this squad. I think we can get back into the Serie A and the Champions League for us isn't over yet."
Fixtures (times GMT)
Siena v Palermo (1600), Milan v Genoa (1845)
Catania v Juventus (1030), Bologna v Inter, Fiorentina v Lazio, Pescara v Atalanta, Sampdoria v Cagliari, Torino v Parma (all 1300), Napoli v Chievo (1845), Roma v Udinese (1845)