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Football | Italy

Paolo Dybala © Getty Images

Five things we learned in Serie A

Juventus suffered a scare before beating tailenders Benevento 2-1 on Sunday to narrow the gap at the top of Serie A as leaders Napoli were held by Chievo and Inter Milan drew 1-1 against Torino.

Here, we look at five things we learned from the Serie A this weekend:

Dybala needs to recover sparkle
Despite scoring 11 times in 12 appearance for Juventus, coach Massimiliano Allegri believes that star forward Paolo Dybala needs a trip back to Argentina duty to regain his sparkle. Dybala has been overshadowed in recent games by fellow Argentine Gonzalo Higuain, who broke through the 100-goal barrier last weekend with a double at AC Milan and scored the opener against Benevento on Sunday. "Sometimes things go well for you, sometimes they don't," said Allegri of Dybala. "He needs to get some fitness back and a bit of that sparkle. It'll happen when he comes back from international duty."

Roma set Serie A record
Roma became the first team to win 12 consecutive away games in Serie A with a 4-2 victory at Fiorentina. Eusebio Di Francesco's team led twice in the first half only to be pegged back both times before killing off the game in the second half in Tuscany with Kostas Manolas and Diego Perotti adding to Brazilian Gerson's earlier brace. Sampdoria were the last team to stop the capital side on their travels under previous coach Luciano Spalletti last January. "Those were the first goals we've conceded away from home in Serie A this season. It was a great game with real intensity," said Di Francesco whose side beat Chelsea 3-0 at home during the week to advance to the Champions League last 16.

Napoli get battle weary
Napoli showed battle scars after another bruising Champions League showdown with Manchester City this week. Maurizio Sarri's unbeaten leaders have been held to goalless stalemates in both their Serie A games days after playing the English side -- the first 3-3 in England was followed by a 0-0 draw to Inter Milan and last Wednesday's 4-2 defeat, by Sunday's 0-0 to Chievo in Verona. "I don't think it was a psychological issue," insisted Sarri. "The problem is that Manchester City force you to do a lot of running, changes of pace, and using up a lot of physical energy. Right now missing two big players like (defender Faouzi) Ghoulam and (forward Arkadiusz) Milik represents a problem."

Milan throw Montella lifeline
An Alessio Romagnoli's header and Suso left-foot curling kick gave Milan coach Vincenzo Montella a 2-0 lifeline at Sassuolo amid reports he would be sacked if he failed to deliver a win. Montella said that the constant speculation was "like watching my own funeral". Milan are seventh with 19 points from 12 games -- long behind leaders Napoli's 32 points -- having lost all their clashes with big teams Roma, Inter and Juventus, and picking up points with smaller sides. "I would've been more worried if we had struggled for points against the smaller teams and did well with the big clubs," said Montella. "It means they have something more than us right now, although I didn't see that big a gap. We're not far off in terms of performance, but the three defeats prove we still have work to do."

Benevento believe amid gloom
Benevento coach Roberto De Zerbi insists his club can turn around their abysmal season after getting a goal past champions Juventus in a 2-1 defeat in Turin. The club dubbed the 'Witches' have now lost all 12 of their matches in their first ever campaign in Italy's top flight, matching the worst start to a season in any of Europe's big five leagues set by Manchester United in 1930. "We wanted to leave the pitch having played a dignified match," said De Zerbi, who believes they can follow Crotone, who came back from the brink last season. "For us they are a model. I came here three games ago, I signed for eight months and I wouldn't have come if I didn’t think we could compete."


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