Inter continue title march after Champions League statement

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Inter Milan have the chance to put even further distance between themselves and Serie A’s chasing pack as they travel to Lecce on Sunday after showing their quality on the European stage.

On a high after outplaying and beating Atletico Madrid 1-0 on Tuesday night, leaders Inter can stretch their winning streak to 10 games in all competitions in southern Italy.

Inter play after second-placed Juventus, who have fallen nine points off the pace after losing three of their last four matches, host leaky Frosinone.

Meanwhile on Wednesday Inter also play their game in hand with Atalanta as the teams who travelled to Saudi Arabia for the Italian Super Cup catch up on the rest of the league.

Lecce are 13th but have lost seven of their last nine matches and are not out of the fight against relegation, as they are only four points above 18th-placed Verona.

Atalanta meanwhile will not be a walk in the park as Gian Piero Gasperini’s side are, like Inter, unbeaten in 2024 and are fourth after winning five league matches in a row.

As such Inter coach Simone Inzaghi is planning some turnover for Lecce, with Carlos Augusto and Denzel Dumfries coming in as wing-backs and Tuesday’s match-winner Marko Arnautovic starting alongside top-scorer Lautaro Martinez in place of injured Marcus Thuram.

“We know that from now on we’re going to be playing a lot of games… We’re going to need everyone,” said Inzaghi after Tuesday’s win.

“The important months are March and April when we will be playing lots and it’s there where we have to try to not lose players and if we find ourselves in difficulty take on those problems as best we can.”

Francesco Calzona will manage his first Serie A match for Napoli at Cagliari on Sunday afternoon after holding Barcelona to a 1-1 draw on Wednesday.

Calzona has barely had time to breathe since replacing Walter Mazzarri and becoming Napoli’s third coach of a dreadful season for the Italian champions.

Napoli, who have Victor Osimhen back and in the goals, need to turn around their domestic form if they are to extend a 14-season run of qualifying for European football.

Osimhen’s leveller in Wednesday’s draw was Napoli’s only shot on target but was the boost Calzona’s side needed as they are nine points behind fourth-placed Atalanta.

“In the final minutes the team believed it could win and that’s a very good sign. I really liked the team spirit I saw out there,” said Calzona.

“We’ve still got a lot of work to do but I praised the players because we’ve rediscovered the desire to fight.”

Player to watch: Marko Arnautovic

Austria forward Arnautovic was the unlikely hero of Tuesday’s win, finally forcing home the decisive goal after drawing the ire of supporters with a clutch of missed chances.

Now Arnautovic is going to play a central role for Inter as he will continue to deputise for the Marcus Thuram, who suffered a thigh injury after taking a shot against Atletico and will be out for a couple of weeks.

The 34-year-old’s strike at the San Siro was just his fourth goal since returning to Inter on loan from Bologna last summer, a difficult period made harder by a hamstring injury which hampered his progress.

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