Juventus wary of Genoa threat
Genoa host Juventus in a midweek match that could go some way to establishing the relative merits of each side's title credentials.
Juventus lie second in the Serie A table, just goals scored behind surprise leaders Sampdoria. Genoa had been the previous pace-setters until the weekend when a 3-1 reverse at Chievo halted their own 100 per cent run.
Genoa did have the excuse, though, that they had played a tough UEFA Europa League match on Thursday and their troops looked a little battle weary. But if they hope to keep pace with the front-runners in Serie A this season and progress in the Europa League at the same time, they are going to have to get used to playing twice a week and recovering quickly.
This match presents Genoa with the opportunity to demonstrate whether or not that Chievo defeat was just a blip and that they really can mix it with the best, or whether their early season form was merely a false dawn. For Juventus, who still hold a 100 per cent record, this game will show whether or not they have the capacity to go to tough away grounds and come away with the kind of results that turn pretenders into title challengers.
And goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, the star of their 2-0 defeat of Livorno on Saturday, is adamant the team must avoid the kind of fate that awaited them last season in a 3-2 defeat. "I don't want to concede three goals again," joked Italy's number one.
"Genoa are a very good side, particularly when they play at home because they play in a fantastic stadium and the atmosphere generated could provide an extra problem for us. But we have to be strong and not be intimidated by the passion of the locals."
While that may be the game of the week, in Florence Sampdoria will come up against their biggest test so far this season. Coach Luigi Del Neri claimed following Sunday's 4-1 thrashing of Siena that he would not set limits on his team's capabilities, particularly with the errant Antonio Cassano in the team.
Fiorentina are coming into the match off the back of a poor 3-1 defeat at AS Roma and the team which finished fourth in each of the previous two seasons needs to win to keep their push for a top four finish on track. Sampdoria president Riccardo Garone insists that his team cannot win the league and said it will come down to a two-way battle between champions Inter Milan and Juventus.
But he has set his own team a high target from their next two tough games, the trip to Fiorentina followed by the visit of Inter. "The table looks great but we have to keep our feet on the ground and keep going forward," he said. "I'm hoping for four points," he said before adding: "It's all to play for but Juve or Inter will win it."
Mourinho's southern challenge
Inter host Napoli in a match they will be expected to win and which could see them go top if other results go their way. However, they will have to play without coach Jose Mourinho barking at the players from the sidelines as he serves a one-match touchline ban for having abused a referee in Sunday's 2-1 win at Cagliari.
Meanwhile struggling AC Milan face a daunting trip to Udinese, who boast Serie A top scorer Antonio Di Natale amongst their ranks. Milan vice-president Adriano Galliani has already been suggesting that a title push is not the club's primary agenda this season.
"It will be a battle, it will be a difficult match against a team that runs a lot and puts itself around the pitch," said Galliani. "One way or another I know that Milan must finish in a position which qualifies us directly for the Champions League next year (top three finish)."
Serie A has already seen it's first coaching casualty with Atalanta, who began with four defeats from four, replacing Angelo Gregucci with Antonio Conte. They host Catania on Wednesday.