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Serie A contenders Milan face test of title credentials v Inter

Serie A contenders Milan face test of title credentials v Inter

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Champions League - Group B - AC Milan v FC Porto - San Siro, Milan, Italy - November 3, 2021 AC Milan coach Stefano Pioli with Olivier Giroud and team mates during the warm up before the match REUTERS/Alessandro Garofalo/

AC Milan's best start to a Serie A season has made them serious title contenders for the first time in recent years but they face a stern test against champions Inter Milan who will be out to end their rivals' unbeaten run in Sunday's derby.

It is 10 wins from 11 league matches so far for Stefano Pioli's team after last weekend's 2-1 victory at AS Roma ensured Milan became the fourth different side in Serie A history to achieve such a fine start to a campaign.

Such form has not been enough for Milan to hold the outright lead, however, with Napoli topping Pioli's men on goal difference, having also taken 31 points from a possible 33.

Since Milan's last Scudetto in 2011, they have finished between fifth and 10th in the standings each season between 2013-2014 and 2019-2020.

While they did come second last term, they never looked like pushing Inter all the way. After their impressive start this time though, a serious title tilt appears to be on the cards.

"The strength of this team is awareness, they know they are young but also ambitious," Pioli told Sky Sport Italia after his side's 1-1 Champions League home draw with Porto nL1N2RU2XN on Wednesday.

"From tonight we will think about the derby, it is very important for our ranking, for the atmosphere at the club and for our dreams."

Third-placed Inter are seven points behind their rivals in the Serie A standings ahead of Sunday's showdown at San Siro, despite only losing one league match so far.

Simone Inzaghi's side have also fared much better than their city rivals in Europe, with Inter's 3-1 win at Sheriff nL1N2RU3N8 Tiraspol on Wednesday putting them in a strong position to reach the Champions League knockout stages, while Milan are bottom of their group on one point.

"Qualification is in our hands," Inzaghi told reporters. "Now we just have to recover physical and mental energies because another intense and important match awaits us on Sunday."

Napoli, who have conceded three league goals all season, will be looking to extend their impressive opening to the campaign at home to Hellas Verona on Sunday fully aware that they must stop Serie A's in-form striker.

Giovanni Simeone, eldest son of Atletico Madrid coach Diego, has six goals in his last two Serie A starts - four in a 4-1 win over Lazio, and a double last weekend in the 2-1 home victory over beleaguered Juventus.

Serie A's historically most successful team Juve are languishing in ninth place after that defeat, their second league loss in four days, and go into Saturday's clash with Fiorentina in Turin trailing Milan and Napoli by 16 points.

(Reporting by Peter Hall; Editing by Ken Ferris)

Source: Reuters


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