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Serie A weekend preview

Napoli are the last major obstacle standing between Juventus and the delivery of their third straight Serie A title, according to defender Leonardo Bonucci.

Last Updated: 28/03/14 at 12:00 Post Comment

Leonardo Bonucci: Ready for Juve's hardest match of the run-in

Leonardo Bonucci: Ready for Juve's hardest match of the run-in

The reigning champions this week overcame the challenge of Parma, who were previously unbeaten in 17 games, as Carlos Tevez scored twice to fire his side 14 points clear of Roma at the top of the table once again.

The Scudetto is bound to arrive in Turin in a matter of weeks, but Juve have found trips to Napoli's Stadio San Paolo particularly difficult in recent years.

The team bus was pelted with rocks before last season's 1-1 draw in Naples and the previous campaigns saw Juve held to a 3-3 draw and beaten 3-0 by an Edinson Cavani hat-trick.

Centre-back Bonucci is under no illusions about just how motivated third-placed Napoli will be to extend their southern dominance over his club while using the game to try to catch Roma in the race for the Champions League.

He told the Corriere dello Sport: "This is the hardest match before the end of the season.

"We'll meet a Napoli team that are motivated for so many reasons. There will be a hostile atmosphere and that's why we'll have to be extra focused.

"All we need to do is one simple thing: play at our absolute best from the first to the 97th minute and then, as always, the best team should win."

The bragging rights are a secondary factor for Napoli boss Rafael Benitez, who has Roma firmly in his sights after his team closed the gap on second place to just six points with victory at Catania in midweek.

"It was an important win, and our aim is now taking second place in the championship," said the Spanish coach.

"Our aim is to beat Roma but it will depend on them too. We will try to give our all and we can close out the season brilliantly.

"We need to be confident because we will need to earn 24 more points."

Roma visit relegation-threatened Sassuolo on Sunday morning.

Also battling to beat the drop are 18th-placed Livorno, who host Inter Milan on Monday, and basement boys Catania.

The Sicilians are now six points adrift of safety and make the longest road trip in the division to face Udinese.

Hoping to avoid being sucked into the bottom three are Bologna, but in Atalanta they welcome the league's form team to the Stadio Renato Dall'Ara.

Stefano Colantuono's Nerazzurri repeated their best ever top-flight streak of five straight wins when beating Livorno in midweek and are now targeting a return to Europe for the first time since the 1990-91 season.

Also locked in a battle for the Europa League berths are Lazio and Parma, who clash at the Stadio Olimpico.

Gialloblu coach Roberto Donadoni has urged his embittered players to respond well to their midweek defeat to Juve.

"I'm a little sorry about the result, but I am still satisfied with the character the lads showed," he said.

"Now we are looking forward to the next game and to redeeming ourselves."

Clarence Seedorf earned himself a reprieve in the AC Milan hot-seat by delivering a 2-0 victory at Fiorentina and on Saturday night takes his under-achieving squad to tackle 16th-placed Chievo.

Elsewhere, fourth-placed Fiorentina visit upwardly-mobile Sampdoria and Hellas Verona look for a first win in six games when they host Genoa.

Should Verona stumble one again, Torino are ready to replace them in the top half by beating Cagliari.

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Readers' Comments

I

think all those names linked to United exits make sense. Kagawa has never really looked like hitting the form he had at Dortmund and Fellaini is radioactive after last season (even though I think he's been unfairly singled out for criticism). Nani and Anderson have had more than their fair share of chances so they are done, and Hernandez deserves better than warming a bench.

ted, manchester
The Insecure Gossip

H

e'll be off to Spurs (or better) in January and I don't blame him. Looking forward to re-signing Grant Holt as his replacement though.

notalentjones
Benteke ignoring speculation

I

n fairness, he does look absolutely shattered in that photo.....

FairyNuff
Shaw told to shape up

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