Champions Juve out to defend slim Serie A lead
February 18 2016 09:04 PM
File picture of Juventus’ coach Massimiliano Allegri conducting a training session.


Juventus spent little time celebrating the Serie A leadership they snatched from Napoli last weekend as they immediately switched focus to a hectic stretch of the season starting at Bologna today.
The champions edged Napoli 1-0 in Turin as they continued an impressive comeback that began in late October following a shock 1-0 reverse at lowly Sassuolo that left them 11 points adrift of then-leaders Roma.
It was the Bianconeri’s fifth defeat in 10 games but following a club-record run of 15 wins they are a point clear of Napoli with 13 games left and in pole position to secure a fifth consecutive Italian league title.
“It took a huge effort to get there and it will take an even bigger one to stay there,” said Juve’s home-grown Italy midfielder Claudio Marchisio.
“You are always on a high after important wins but never for more than a couple of days. With the games coming thick and fast at the moment you can’t afford to dwell on the past.”
Bologna also started the campaign poorly but have improved since hiring coach Roberto Donadoni in October.
They are 10th after a 1-0 win at Udinese and a 1-1 home draw with Fiorentina in their last two outings.
After the trip down to Emilia-Romagna, Juve next face fellow European powerhouses Bayern Munich in Tuesday’s Champions League last 16, first leg.
On February 28, they host Inter Milan in Serie A and visit them in the Italian Cup semi-finals on March 2 holding a 3-0 lead from last month’s home leg.
A 16th straight win for Juve at Bologna would put them within one victory of Inter’s league record of 17.
Napoli’s defeat to Juve snapped a run of eight victories and they will look to get back to winning ways at home to AC Milan on Monday.
Within 56 points from 25 games, they are still in with a good chance of claiming a title they last won in 1990.
Napoli’s Spanish goalkeeper Pepe Reina said team morale was high despite the setback in Turin.
“After Saturday we are even more sure of ourselves and confident that we need to keep going along the same path we have been following up to now,” he told a news conference on Wednesday.
Roma need to pick themselves up after Wednesday’s disappointing 2-0 defeat at home to Real Madrid in the Champions League.
The Giallorossi play on Sunday at home to troubled Palermo, who this week re-hired Giuseppe Iachini three months after he was dismissed.
Roma are fourth on 47 points after a run of four straight wins and are battling with third-placed Fiorentina and Inter and AC Milan in fifth and sixth respectively for third place and a berth in Champions League qualifying.
Fiorentina edged Inter 2-1 last weekend to move on to 49 points and visit Atalanta on Sunday.
Inter have 45 points before their game at home to Sampdoria on Saturday, while Milan are two points adrift of their city rivals.
Bottom side Verona and mid-table Chievo clash in their city derby on Saturday, while the rest of the Sunday action includes Genoa at home to Udinese, Empoli at Sassuolo, Torino at home to Carpi and Lazio at Frosinone.

Last updated: February 18 2016 09:06 PM

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