ROME - Napoli have the chance to join AC
Milan at the top of Serie A and underline their reputation as
genuine title contenders on Sunday.
Once-mighty Napoli travel to mid-table Bologna amid more talk of refereeing favouritism in Italian football.
The unfashionable club from Italy's south were ripped apart
3-0 by Milan five weeks ago, but have quickly picked themselves
up and after three straight victories are back in second spot
three points behind the Rossoneri with just seven matches of the
season to go.
Last week with all eyes on the north's top-of-the-table
Milan derby, Napoli beat fifth-placed Lazio 4-3 in the match of
the day to move two points above fading Inter and reignite hopes
of a first scudetto since 1990, led by Diego Maradona.
"It has been an incredible season," said coach Walter
Mazzarri, after seeing his side come back from two goals down
"We defeated the demons through strength of pride and
character. Bologna will be the first of seven more battles."
However, after a stirring comeback in front of 75,000 at the
San Paolo stadium, Napoli's euphoria was soured by suggestions
the result was influenced by bad officiating.
Lazio president Claudio Lotito told Italy's Radiouno the
match "unfair," pointing to a Christian Brocchi's shot that
television replays showed had crossed the goalline and, at 3-2,
a dubious penalty decision and the sending off of defender
His counterpart Aurelio De Laurentiis, who had reportedly
clashed with Lotito at a league meeting in the days ahead of the
match, leapt to his side's defence.
"For me it was a clean and fair game, completely above
suspicion," the film producer told Napoli's Radio Marte.
"There's always the chance of a mistake in favour of one
team or the other if the rules don't change [introduction of
"If Lotito called Cavani a diver, he's out of order. There's
always been some theatrics in football but Cavani is not a
While the return of Argentine forward Ezequiel Lavezzi after
a three-match ban has boosted Napoli, they will be without the
suspended Cavani on Sunday.
Giuseppe Mascara is favourite to start against a mid-table
Bologna side under criticism after a lacklustre display in the
3-1 defeat at lowly Brescia last week.
Coach Alberto Malesani has midfielder Gaby Mudingayi back in
contention for a side that has relied heavily on the 19 goals of
veteran striker Marco di Vaio.
Leaders Milan, with Zlatan Ibrahimovic back from suspension,
face a tricky fixture away at fast-improving Fiorentina on
Third-placed Inter, who followed their 3-0 derby loss with a
5-2 home humiliation by Schalke on Tuesday in the quarterfinal
first-leg of the Champions League, will hope to arrest the slide
when they host Chievo Verona on Saturday.
Two points above Lazio, fourth-placed Udinese face
sixth-placed Roma at the Friuli stadium also on Saturday,
while on Sunday fifth-placed Lazio play Parma in Rome and
Juventus, two points behind Roma in seventh, host Genoa.
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