Juventus issues warning to rest of Serie A
MILAN (AP) — After opening up a three-point gap at the top of the table and winning at Napoli for the first time in more than 14 years, Juventus will look to continue its march to the Serie A title against Hellas Verona on Sunday.
Martin Caceres marked his return from injury by scoring in the 3-1 win at Napoli and he believes Juventus sent out a warning to the rest of the league with that result.
“We go out on the pitch every game looking to give our all,” Caceres said. “We returned home from the San Paolo, a place where we hadn’t won for many years, with the three points.
“We once again sent out a message, which is always the same: we’re Juventus and we always go out there to win.”
It will be the second time Juventus plays Verona in the space of a few days with the two clubs meeting Thursday in the Italian Cup. However, it will be a much changed Juventus team, with coach Massimiliano Allegri resting the likes of Carlos Tevez and Andrea Pirlo for the first match.
Here are some of the things to know about this weekend’s games as Serie A approaches the halfway stage:
WAR OF WORDS
Roma fought back from two goals down to draw 2-2 in the derby against Lazio last weekend but the two clubs have continued to do battle off the pitch, with a war of words between their two presidents rumbling on all week.
Among other things, Lazio president Claudio Lotito said he would resign if Roma won the league title, while his counterpart James Pallotta released an odd statement on the cub’s website.
“Next time I come to Rome I will attempt to educate him on our strong and profitable financial position as I would speak to a young child (speaking slowly with as many one syllable words as possible),” said Pallotta’s statement.
“If he still can’t figure it out, I give it up.”
Roma travels to Palermo on Saturday evening, knowing it can move provisionally level with Juventus at the top of the table.
DEFENSIVE WOES FOR MILAN
AC Milan hosts Atalanta on Sunday with something of a defensive crisis.
Cristian Zapata will likely be out for a month after fracturing a metatarsal in his foot, while Mattia De Sciglio could be out for around six weeks after suffering a recurrence of a foot injury that sidelined him in November.
De Sciglio would have been suspended for the visit of Atalanta but Milan will be hoping his injury is not as bad as feared. The duo have been a mainstay of Milan’s defense for most of the season.
Sulley Muntari, Marco Van Ginkel and Pablo Armero trained on Thursday and will be fit for the weekend.
Milan has won just one of its past five league matches.
ICARDI ON FIRE
Inter Milan forward Mauro Icardi is scoring goals for fun and will be looking to add to his tally at relegation-threatened Empoli on Sunday.
Icardi, who has already beaten his tally for the whole of last season, has scored in both of Inter’s matches this year.
The 21-year-old has 10 goals so far this season, one less than league leading goalscorer Carlos Tevez.
“We’ve signed players that put quality into the box and I hope to score another 10 goals, if not more,” Icardi said. ”(Lukas) Podolski and (Xherdan) Shaqiri have come in and we’ve got pace up front.”
Inter has won two of its past four matches, drawing the other two, against Lazio and Juventus.
Roberto Mancini’s team is ninth in Serie A, but six points off third spot in what promises to be a riveting battle for the final Champions League spot.