Juventus have what it takes to win the Serie A title, according to former coach and beaten foe Claudio Ranieri following the Old Lady of Turin's 2-1 win at the San Siro.
Goals from Mirko Vucinic and Claudio Marchisio either side of a deflected strike from Maicon gave I Bianconeri a priceless victory away to Inter Milan yesterday.
It was enough to maintain Juve's unbeaten start to the campaign and lead at the top of the table, while stretching the gap between the traditional rivals to 11 points. And having lost the Derby d'Italia, Ranieri believes Juve are well equipped to go all the way this season.
"They can [win the title], they're working hard and have the time to do so but I'm not giving up," he told Sky. "I was very interested to see the most in-form team in the league against us.
"We're not in good form but it's coming back and the game was level. We ran as much as them and it didn't seem to me that there was this huge difference in physical condition between us."
Following two successive seventh-placed finishes and having missed out on European qualification altogether this season, Juve were not expected to be ready to fight for the title this time around.
Inter, on the other hand, were expected to improve on last season, when a poor start cost them in their Scudetto bid, eventually finishing second to AC Milan.
But with this result leaving them still fifth from bottom - and wins for either Bologna or Novara today could drop them further still - it would seem their championship hopes are over.
Not that Ranieri agrees. "We shouldn't look at the table, like I said before there's still 84 points [actually 87] to play for," he said. "Last year Milan won with 82 points so we shouldn't look at the table.
"Obviously it would have been better to win than lose but I'm left with a bittersweet feeling. Sweet because we fought and competed with Juventus despite being bandaged up, and bitter because we lost."
Conte more cautious
Juventus coach Antonio Conte has now seen his side beat both Milan giants, the top two last season, but he remained coy on the team's chances of maintaining this form right through to May.
"I'm satisfied that we won. There are always important steps when you're growing," he said. "We've still got to learn something to keep improving but we're taking big steps and this is an important win because we've got 19 points and we're still top, which is very satisfying for the guys for what they're doing.
"We tried to do our best, I'm happy because it's not easy to come to the San Siro and beat a team like Inter. It was an intense game with a lot of pressing and towards the end there was a bit of tiredness on both sides, given that it was the third game in eight days.
"We still need to be more clinical, we could have put this game to bed sooner. We need to improve our consistency, to be more ready and to know how to rest while keeping the ball."