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Italian Serie A

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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S

terling needs to be told though that upon entering the Arsenal squad he will re-enact the final scene from Highlander where he will be thrown around a warehouse by cartoon dragons and then be a mere mortal that will only ever spend three to four weeks a season playing football and the rest on the physio's bed. There can be only one.....player available at The Emirates.

rodger's gusset
Arsenal interest in Sterling

T

he game changed in our favour when Carrick came on. We were able to play further up the pitch due to having a player who can give and go with the ball and keep possession. Yet barkley made some runs and Townsend scored a good goal but carrick's inclusion and chiellini's withdrawal made the biggest difference to the flow of the game

ricky villa
Hodgson: Barkley was brilliant

N

o, you've not silenced anyone Andros, i'm afraid. We know you can score a great goal, and it's really handy to have your direct running and willingness to shoot on the bench. But until you can do the other things expected of a winger (beat the man, put a decent cross in, stay wide etc) then you can't expect more than a regular cameo. Wonderful goal though, what a hit! No wonder Buffon wanted the shirt.

badwolf
Townsend: I've silenced critics

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