Surprise leaders of Italy’s Serie A, Udinese, travel to Napoli in midweek hoping to preserve their unbeaten record and their place on top of the table.
A excellent start to the campaign has seen them reach such dizzying heights and have only Juventus for company as a team that has not lost yet this season but will find that statistic tested when they got the Stadio San Paolo, even though there opponents appear to have forgotten how to win.
Napoli coach Walter Mazzarri has called on his players to be more clinical after failing to score against the likes of Cagliari, Fiorentina and Chievo.
“We miss chances too easily and we’re struggling to score goals,” said Mazzarri, although he refused to blame misfiring striker Edinson Cavani.
The Uruguayan was second in the scoring charts behind Udinese’s Antonio Di Natale last season whereas this term he has scored just three league goals.
Di Natale’s brace against Novara at the weekend shot him to the top of the scoring charts but Mazzarri feels his “bomber” is suffering from playing too much.
“Tactically he had a great game (against Cagliari), he’s not scoring at the moment whereas last season he found it easier to score,” said Mazzarri.
Mazzarri’s opposite number Francesco Guidolin is not getting carried away by his team’s impressive start and has ruled out any chance of them remaining where they are at the season’s end.
“We deserve our lofty standing, the lads are improving and they still want to improve,” said Guidolin.
“Not one coach has put Udinese amongst their potential winners and I have faith in my colleagues, they know football.”
If Udinese fail to beat Napoli, who come into the game in fifth place and four points behind their visitors, then Lazio or Juventus could take over top spot.
Lazio host Catania whilst Juventus entertain Fiorentina.
Juve can go top with a victory for a day at least regardless of the others’ results as they play on Tuesday, a day before the rest.
They face a team whose coach Sinisa Mihajlovic is already under pressure despite a reasonable start to the season.
With so many teams congested in mid-table, Fiorentina are 10th but only six points off top and yet fans called for Mihajlovic to be dismissed following their 2-2 draw at home to Catania at the weekend.
One coach who seems to be pulling things together is Inter Milan’s Claudio Ranieri.
The 2010 Champions League winners are looking for their first back-to-back victories in Serie A this season as they travel to Atalanta.
And Ranieri says what he wants most is consistency.
“It’s time to find some consistency to get ourselves back in the (title) race,” he said.
“We’re still not fluid in our build-up play but I think that will come when we get our confidence and self-esteem back, which will come when the results do. We need to put together a run of positive results.”
Meanwhile champions AC Milan host Parma after their thrilling 4-3 victory at Lecce at the weekend having trailed 3-0 at half-time.
But captain Massimo Ambrosini says they cannot afford to start so badly in the future.
“That game must leave an imprint on everyone because you can’t always come back like that,” he said.
“We had a poor team attitude and poor personal attitudes in the first half.”