Serie A surprise outfit Napoli travel to Inter Milan this weekend confident they can emulate Panathinaikos and come away from the San Siro with three points.
Napoli currently sit in a Champions League qualifying position despite a recent blip in their early season form.
Captain Francesco Montervino believes they have the firepower, particularly on the counter-attack, to hurt Jose Mourinho’s leaders and reigning champions.
“It will be an open match. We need to be humble but also intelligent,” Montervino said. “We mustn’t close up shop and we have to look to players such as [Ezequiel] Lavezzi and [Marek] Hamsik, who are great, quick players on the counter-attack.”
That may not have been the approach Panathinaikos took to derail the Italian giants, but for Napoli to upset the applecart they must look to their strengths, which are far more in going forward than trying to hold out at the back.
Recent results have gone against them as they lost at both AC Milan — to a late own-goal after playing the entire second half with 10 men — and Atalanta while managing only a draw at home to lowly Cagliari after letting in an equalizer in the fifth minute of stoppage time at the end of the game.
Montervino puts down those slip-ups to fatigue due to their participation in the Intertoto Cup and a lack of experience but is sure they can bounce back.
“Maybe some people forget that we started work on July 2 to play in the Intertoto and like others our best players have been away on international duty,” he added.
“This dip could continue but I believe it has been more mental than physical. Against Atalanta and even more so against Cagliari we lacked a bit of experience at the end,” Montervino said. “We’re going there [to Inter] where we’ve got to play well to hold back the onslaught and then impose our own rhythm on the game.”
A victory would propel Napoli back into the title race and would be welcomed by second placed AC Milan and third placed Juventus, respectively three and six points behind Inter.
Milan have a tricky trip to Palermo tomorrow, while Juventus have what looks on paper like a simple three-pointer at home to Reggina.
Both teams dropped points last week, Milan after conceding a late equalizer against Torino, and need a victory to keep hold of Inter’s coat-tails.
Meanwhile, down the other end, AS Roma, who have won their last three matches, welcome Fiorentina, who currently sit sixth and need a win to try to keep themselves in the title picture.
But Roma coach Luciano Spalletti believes his team, who have finished runners-up in the last three season, are back on track.
“I think we can say that we’re back on the right path in respect to the quality we have in our squad,” he said.
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