‘Ginnings not working’: AC Milan’s title defense crumbles as Napoli host Roma | football news

With 86 minutes gone in their last Serie A home match, AC Milan’s title defense was very much alive, scoring twice against Roma and set to maintain a five-point gap separating champions and league leaders Napoli. Less than three weeks later and their hopes of retaining the Scudetto hang by a thread after a sudden slump that allowed Napoli to charge 12 clear almost completely unchallenged saw them crash out of the Italian Cup and lose the Super Cup. Inter Milan.

Two quickfire goals from Roger Ibanez and Tammy Abraham That night at the San Siro produced a shock draw for a disappointing Roma and since then Milan have looked a shadow of the team that wrested the title from neighbors Inter last year.

The party that erupted last spring to celebrate Milan’s first league crown since 2011 felt like a distant memory on Tuesday night when Lazio demolished Stefano Pioli’s side 4-0 to leave them a point behind in third place.

Pioli all-but conceded the title after a woeful showing in Rome, admitting that “a lot is not working now” as previously reliable performers either get injured or slump on the field.

Director Paolo Maldini insisted on Tuesday that the season “doesn’t look like a huge disaster” but Milan has been criticized for flop signings in the summer, including the iconic Belgium attacker. Charles De Ketelare and Sergino Dest, who featured at left-back on Tuesday in place of the injured Theo Hernandez, were disastrous.

Milan host struggling Sassuolo on Sunday — the team whose ground fans rallied to witness a long-awaited title win in May — is the perfect opportunity to restart their season.

But it will take a complete implosion for Napoli to clinch a historic first title since 1990 after amassing an incredible 50 points at the halfway point of the season.

Napoli hosted rivals Roma for the first time after a huge dust-up between die-hard fans of both teams shut down a motorway for almost an hour as Roma supporters traveled to their dramatic draw with Milan.

There will be no one away from the Stadio Maradona on Sunday night as both supporters were banned from traveling for two months in the wake of that clash.

Like Lazio and Inter Milan, Roma are a point behind Milan and have a promising strike partnership with England international Abraham. Paulo Dybala.

But coach Luciano Spalletti knows his side have a “potentially once-in-a-lifetime chance” to end a three-decade wait for southern Italy’s biggest club, which is likely to have Khvicha Kvaratskhelia back after the Georgian wing wizard recovers from flu.

Meanwhile Juventus continued their bid to climb the table, following a brutal 15-point penalty for illegal transfer activity when they hosted surprise package Monza in Turin.

Massimiliano Allegri said so last week Paul Pogba And Dusan Vlahovic will be available for selection, with fans wondering if France midfielder Pogba will eventually make the move to the Turin giants after a knee injury nightmare cost him the World Cup and the first half of the domestic season.

What to watch out for: SAOT

Semi-automated offside technology (SAOT) will make its Serie A debut this weekend after being used in the World Cup and this season’s Champions League group stages.

Italy’s top flight will become the first major domestic league to implement the technology this weekend, hoping to end a row in September after Juventus’ winning goal against Salernitana was disallowed because the VAR cameras somehow failed to detect it. Antonio Candreva Standing next to the corner flag, everyone is playing on the sidelines.

Fixtures (bar GMT)

Friday

Bologna vs Spezia (18:30), Lake vs Salernitana (19:45)

saturday

Empoli vs Torino (14:00), Cremonese vs Inter (17:00), Atalanta vs Sampdoria (19:45)

sunday

AC Milan vs Sassuolo (11:30), Juventus vs Monza (14:00), Lazio vs Fiorentina (17:00), Napoli vs Roma (19:45)

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