Title rivals can capitalise on Inter postponement to apply pressure

Peter Hall
·2-min read
FILE PHOTO: Serie A - Cagliari v Juventus

By Peter Hall

(Reuters) - AC Milan and Juventus can capitalise on the postponement of Inter Milan's game with Sassuolo due to a COVID-19 outbreak to apply some pressure at the top of the Serie A standings ahead of the upcoming international break.

Inter announced on Thursday that two more of their players had contracted COVID-19, taking the number of positive tests within Antonio Conte's squad to four, with local health authorities postponing all playing activity at the club for four days.

That means their clash with Sassuolo on Saturday has been cancelled, opening the door for the chasing pack to close the gap at the top.

Milan face a tough trip to Fiorentina, who are desperate to turn their season around under Cesare Prandelli, and victory in Florence would move Stefano Pioli's side six points behind leaders Inter.

Pioli has been keen to reiterate that qualification for next season's Champions League, rather than a title tilt, is Milan's goal this season, but the chance at least to apply pressure on their great rivals should not be passed up.

Champions Juventus have just domestic honours to fight for after exiting the Champions League at the last-16 stage for the second season in a row last week, with a Cristiano Ronaldo hat-trick helping his side respond against Cagliari last weekend.

"After the Champions League exit, we reacted on the pitch," defender Giorgio Chiellini said this week.

"It is time to keep our heads down and stay united, showing that we want to perform and that we believe until the end."

Benevento, Juve's opponents on Sunday, are without a win in their last 11 league games and are in danger of being dragged into a relegation fight.

AS Roma host Napoli in the final match of the weekend with both teams battling to finish in the top four.

Napoli coach Gennaro Gattuso remains under pressure after an inconsistent season, but building on their surprise win at Milan last weekend will appease some disgruntled supporters.

(Reporting by Peter Hall; Editing by Toby Davis)