Juventus hoping to secure Christmas initiative

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Updated: December 21, 2012

Serie A like most of the European leagues head into their Winter breaks following this weekend of fixtures. Juventus have created some daylight at the top with a 7 point advantage over nearest challenger Inter Milan.

Walter Mazzari’s Napoli should get their season back on track on Sunday at bottom club Siena. Since their thrashing of Siena at the beginning of December Napoli have lost 2 straight and can ill afford to lose this weekend if they want to remain in touching distance. Napoli now find themselves in fifth place, 10 points behind champions Juventus and fighting for a Champions League place rather than the title.

But Siena could fancy their chances against Napoli, who threw away a lead to lose against Bologna at home twice in three days, and will want to impress their new boss Giuseppe Iachini.

For Antonio Conte and league leaders Juventus, things could hardly be going any better. They are 7 points ahead of their nearest challengers Inter Milan, but their other serious rival was effectively ruled out of the race and they even benefited from the week’s other controversy when their match at Cagliari on Friday was moved to Parma.

The only problem facing Juve is Giorgio Chiellini being ruled out for up to two months with a calf injury. However, considering only Pescara have scored fewer goals than Cagliari this season, not many would bet on them getting a result against the champions.

The real losers, however, will be Cagliari’s long-suffering supporters, 15 000 of whom had bought tickets for the match at the Is Arenas stadium, as their club battles with local authorities over the safety of their stadium.

Fans of the Sardinian club again face the prospect of watching their club’s home games being played on the Italian mainland, which could have a big impact on their fight against relegation.

The six teams pursuing Juventus are fighting over European places and AS Roma play AC Milan in Rome on Saturday evening.

Milan had a dismal start to the season with speculation about Massimiliano Allegri’s future dominating Italian media. AC have responded in typical fashion and are unbeaten in their last five matches, a run that has seen them pull back from two goals down to draw at Napoli and inflict Juventus’s second defeat of the season. With 14 goals, Serie A’s top scorer Stephan El Shaarawy is Milan’s inspiration, but Robinho has also been exceptional since returning from injury.

Roma have a wealth of talent up front and an all-out attacking philosophy that has brought them 38 goals in 17 games, the most in the league. Roma are two points and a place above Milan in sixth, and the match will be an indicator of which side really wants to make a run at next season’s Champion’s League.