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Tuesday, 03 August 2021

Inter target top spot as leaders AC Milan face Sassuolo test

Unbeaten Milan travel to sixth-placed Sassuolo as they try to get back winning after back-to-back stalemates

AFP , Friday 18 Dec 2020
Cristiano Ronaldo
Cristiano Ronaldo's (L) Juventus have drawn six times in 12 games this season. Photo: AFP
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Inter Milan target top spot in Serie A on Sunday at home against promoted Spezia as league leaders AC Milan face a tricky trip to Sassuolo.

Inter are just one point behind their city rivals after picking up a fifth consecutive league win against Napoli midweek.

Antonio Conte's side have gained four points on Milan in the last two league games with their focus now on a first league title since 2010 after their European exit.

"It makes me smile when an obligation is talked about," said Conte of the pressure to deliver the 'Scudetto' to save Inter's season.

"There are many teams who want to be protagonists. They start with the aim of trying to win, but, in the end, only one does.

"In the last nine years, the same side has always won, which is why I smile when I hear 'obligation'. We want to improve."

Against Napoli, Conte claimed a 32nd win out of 50 Serie A games since taking over in 2019, finishing runner-up one point behind Juventus last season.

That winning run is just short of Jose Mourinho's record of 34 in his first 50 games, the Portuguese having led Inter to an unprecedented treble a decade ago.

Unbeaten Milan travel to sixth-placed Sassuolo as they try to get back winning after back-to-back stalemates.

Star striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic has missed Milan's last four league games but the 39-year-old Swede looks set to return from a leg injury.

Despite his absence, AC Milan stretched their unbeaten to 24 league games going back to last March, their longest run since 1993.

After a flying start to the season Sassuolo lost momentum after top scorer Francesco Caputo missed four games through injury but the Italian forward returned in a 1-1 draw against Fiorentina last time out.

The side from Emilia Romagna are five points behind Milan, and need a win to avoid losing further ground.

Champions Juventus, sitting third four points behind Milan, head for 14th-placed Parma, looking for just their third win on the road this season.

Andrea Pirlo's side have been held in six of 12 games played so far this campaign.

AS Roma, equal on points with Juventus, travel to eighth-placed Atalanta who have won just one of their last five matches amid uncertainly over the future of captain Papu Gomez.

Napoli, in fifth, travel to ninth-placed Lazio, with both sides needing wins to keep in touch with the leaders.

Gennaro Gattuso will be without forward Dries Mertens, out injured for three weeks with an ankle sprain, with Nigerian Victor Osimhen recovering from a shoulder injury.

One to watch: Henrikh Mkhitaryan

Armenian Henrikh Mkhitaryan has scored seven goals in his last six games this season for Roma, having made his loan move from Arsenal permanent.

The 31-year-old scored nine goals in 22 Serie A appearances as Roma secured a fifth-place finish last season.

So far this campaign the former Manchester United player has made a total of 12 goalscoring contributions - five assists and seven strikes.

Key stats

30 - Inter Milan's goals in 12 games
14 - AC Milan's run of games with at least two goals scored, a record in Serie A which overtakes Torino in 1948 (13)
6 - Juventus draws in 12 games played

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