Straight from the dark heart of Italy
A familiar name still resides at the top of the table and even though the AC Milan fans unfurled “We have a dream” banners on Sunday, the reality is that Inter are still a point ahead of their city rivals.
There is little time to become too acquainted with the current table – what with Serie A back in action on Wednesday evening.
As has become something of the norm, Jose Mourinho was left the winner once again even if the champions have forgotten how to be winners themselves on the domestic front.
One victory in seven outings is not title-winning form but while the Portuguese left balmy Palermo for frigid Moscow to watch CSKA, Milan were getting ready to fall over themselves to catch a cold at the San Siro.
Hugo Campagnaro slots into the empty net to put Napoli ahead
In fairness, Napoli were well worth their draw in a game that never lived up to expectations especially when Alexandre Pato limped off once again with a reoccurrence of his thigh strain a mere fifteen minutes into the encounter.
Without the speedy Brazilian, the momentum going forward was always going to be severely lacking - and that just about sums up the Rossoneri title challenge really.
The physiological lift of taking over top spot would have been immense, but instead Leonardo’s men could find themselves further off the pace by midweek: they are at Parma while Inter have what must be a home-banker against Livorno.
That points-difference must seem like a mountain to climb on this damp Monday morning out at Milanello and the impetus could now be found back in the Capital.
"This is how far offside I was, muthaf***ers!"
AS Roma’s thoughts of pushing the Milanese sides all the way looked to have vanished in the Spring mists, following three consecutive draws and a seemingly chronic inability to hold on to a lead.
The sight of Francesco Totti’s name on the Roma team sheet is as illusive as a fully fit Pato, although the Giallorossi captain could be set to play some part against Inter next weekend.
However, in his absence Mirko Vucinic has stepped up his game and sporting garish lavender boots netted a hat-trick on Saturday evening against Udinese.
The mercurial Montegrin was ably assisted by the hard-working Luca Toni who netted a goal for himself and if the beanpole striker keeps knocking them over then he must be a fair bet for South Africa.
The pair have only played a full game twice together but have a pretty impressive return of seven goals – the first occasion was against Genoa where Toni scored twice and Vucinic chipped in with one.
Vucinic scores the second of his three goals against Udinese from the spot
The question now is should Totti’s return be held back? He certainly will not be risked at Bologna on Wednesday and it may well be a case of sticking with those in form.
Jeremy Menez produced his best performance for the club at the weekend – jinking past defenders and even tracking back to make challenges in the middle third of the pitch, which probably more than anything earned the languid Frenchman a fatherly hug from Claudio Ranieri.
The crafty-old Roman has maintained in public anyway that the title is only Inter’s to lose but when he gets his players together in private the conservation is bound to be somewhat different.
These next two games over a four-day period could well be decisive in keeping dreams alive or ensuring that harsh reality prevails.
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