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Serie A - Football: Inter holding ace-hand in title battle

Italy appears to be home to the most competitive title race in Europe's big five leagues this season with Inter, AC Milan and Napoli all in contention for the Scudetto.

All three teams face key assignments this coming weekend as the title-race veers towards a crucial stage in the season.

Topsy-turvy title race unfolding in Italy

It was Napoli who came out firing first, having been top of Serie A between mid-September and the start of December, when Inter took the baton and reached the summit.

AC Milan, meanwhile, are the current leaders heading into this weekend's action, with all the action on our European Soccer Live Streaming Highlights.

With both Milan clubs involved in fixtures on Friday night, it's a good time to assess the current standings which have AC Milan on top on 56 points and Inter second on 54 points but with a game in hand. Napoli are in third, level on points with Inter but having played one game more.

Given so little separates the sides, it may come as a surprise to some to see Inter at 1/2 in the outright market with Milan 15/4 and Napoli 9/2.

Upon closer inspection, though, it is clear why Inter may be deemed to have the upper hand in the Italian title race.

Title race experience favours Inter

For starters, many of their players have been here before, having won the 2020-21 Serie A title under the stewardship of Antonio Conte, amassing 91 points that season.

Top scorer Romelu Lukaku and Conte have since departed but Simone Inzaghi, who managed Lazio for five years, knows this division well.

And in Lautaro Martinez, who has struck 11 league goals already this term, they have a forward with plenty of promise in their ranks.

Additionally, Inter have got the bulk of their trickier matches out of the way.

Inzaghi's men will not face either Napoli or Milan in their remaining league games and will in fact take on only three of the current top eight in Serie A before the end of the campaign.

Napoli and Milan, meanwhile, are set to clash in a key fixture at the Stadio San Paolo on 6th March.

And that match contributes to tougher fixture lists for both sides, with Napoli facing five of the top eight and Milan set to lock horns with four of the top eight in their remaining assignments.

The argument could be made that Inter must also compete in the Champions League this season but a 2-0 loss to Liverpool in the first leg of their last-16 tie suggests they may soon be omitted from continental competition.

Milan missing experience at the back

Certain individuals can make or break a title pursuit and injuries must also be factored in when assessing the chances of these three teams.

Simon Kjaer supplies AC Milan with crucial leadership and experience at the back but is expected to be out for the rest of the season, hindering them in defence.

Further ahead, they have also been without the services of industrious midfielder Sandro Tonali for some time.

As for Napoli, they know Lorenzo Insigne will be heading to Major League Soccer with Toronto at the end of the campaign but they have the tricky Italian at their disposal for the remainder of the title race.

They will, however, continue to be without Mexican winger Hirving Lozano and midfielder Andre Zambo Anguissa until March time.

Inter are in a fairly fortunate position whereby they are not missing any crucial personnel with only Joaquin Correa, who is not always a first-team starter, and Robin Gosens, who only joined the club on loan in January, currently unavailable.

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Title prospects under microscope this weekend

And so it seems Inter are in prime position to land top spot again this season but if they are to do so, they will need to turn their form around heading into Friday's clash with Genoa.

They are 1/3 to win their next game, while Genoa are 17/2 to win and the draw is 4/1.

But Inter are winless in each of their last three games, having drawn with Napoli before defeats to Liverpool and Sassuolo.

They can at least take comfort from the fact that Genoa have won only one of their 26 Serie A fixtures and are in the midst of a relegation battle.

Milan, meanwhile, are 9/20 to win Friday's match with Udinese, who are only a few points above the drop zone themselves and are 11/2 to prevail. The stalemate is 7/2.

These are the kinds of matches both Inter and AC need to be winning if they are destined for Scudetto glory this season.

Napoli have a much trickier task on their hands on Sunday when they face capital club Lazio.

Luciano Spalletti's men will go into the game having only played Barcelona in the Europa League on Thursday and will be wary of a Lazio team targeting a top-six berth and more.

But this Lazio team have also suffered defeats to both Inter and AC Milan since the start of 2022 and Napoli will want to prove their worth by showing they too can overcome Maurizio Sarri's men in a key encounter. Napoli are 7/5 to win this one.

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