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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 September 2018

Serie A  preview: Juventus and Napoli look to maintain perfect start to season

Italy's two leading sides both lost in the Uefa Champions League and aim to bounce back in domestic competition. 

Mario Mandzukic and Paulo Dybala, right, in action during the 1-0 Serie A win over Fiorentina on Wednesday. Alessandro Di Marco / ANSA
Mario Mandzukic and Paulo Dybala, right, in action during the 1-0 Serie A win over Fiorentina on Wednesday. Alessandro Di Marco / ANSA

Juventus and Napoli will both be looking to make it six wins out of six in Serie A on Saturday before crucial Uefa Champions League games next week.

Juventus lost their first Champions League match 3-0 to Barcelona and sparks should fly in the highly-anticipated Turin derby against an improving Torino before meeting Greek club Olympiakos on Wednesday.

Napoli travel to struggling newcomers SPAL, ahead of their home game on Tuesday against Dutch side Feyenoord.

Napoli and Juventus are joint-top of the Italian league table with a maximum 15 points with the Naples side ahead on goal difference with 19 scored - five more than Juventus.

But the champions face a potentially tricky task against Torino, who last won Serie A in 1976, but are unbeaten this season and are just behind the leaders on 11 points.

Gonzalo Higuain's stoppage-time goal snatched a 1-1 draw for Juventus in their last meeting in May and defender Giorgio Chiellini predicts "a top class" clash.

"For those like me who have been in Turin for 12 years, this is the strongest Torino and it's nice to see that the level of the derby is finally rising," said the Italian international. "Torino is a high-level team that has all the cards in hand to enter Europe."

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Napoli are also on the comeback trail after losing in the Ukraine to Shakhtar Donetsk in their Champions League opener, but they showed grit in rallying from a goal down to beat Lazio 4-1 in Rome midweek.

"We have passed a maturity exam at Olimpico," said Senegal's Kalidou Koulibaly, who got the equaliser in Rome. "This is the mentality needed to keep us on the right road. We've learnt how to be more resistant and we can take on anyone. We've turned the page now and are focused on SPAL."

Italy's third Champions League contender Roma are on the move up the Serie A standings after consecutive wins over Benevento and Verona.

Roma host Udinese - just a point above the drop zone after four defeats - before travelling to Azerbaijan to play Qarabag on Wednesday after a goalless draw in their opener against Atletico Madrid.

But Roma will be without striker Patrik Schick, ruled out for two weeks with a muscular injury in his left leg, after making his debut last Saturday against Verona.

Inter Milan - third two points behind the leaders after their winning streak was stalled 1-1 at Bologna - host winless Genoa, as city rivals AC Milan, a point behind, travel to Sampdoria.

On Sunday, Lazio travel to Verona, seeking a boost ahead of Europa League action next week.

In midtable, Fiorentina host Atalanta and Chievo travel to Sardinia to play Cagliari as tailenders Crotone and Benevento go head to head looking for their first win.

SERIE A FIXTURES

All times UAE (+4 GMT)

Saturday
Roma v Udinese (5pm) 
SPAL v Napoli (8pm)
Juventus v Torino (10.45pm)

Sunday
Sampdoria v AC Milan (2.30pm)
Inter Milan v Genoa (5pm)
Crotone v Benevento (5pm)
Verona v Lazio (5pm)
Cagliari v Chievo (5pm)
Sassuolo v Bologna (8pm)
Fiorentina v Atalanta (10.45pm)

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