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Sports

Juventus seek domestic gains in Bologna before Bayern showdown

media Massimo Allegri is attempting to steer Juventus to the latter stages of the Uefa Champions League and a fifth consecutive Serie A title. Reuters/Stefano Rellandini

Serie A leaders Juventus play at Bologna on Friday night with one eye on a big night out in Europe on Tuesday against Bayern Munich but also hoping to open up a four point lead at home over second placed Napoli.

 

Juventus went top of Serie A by one point last Saturday night after a 1-0 win over Napoli.

Simone Zaza hit the winner in the closing stages of a pulsating match.

Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri said on Friday that he would not field a weakened team against Roberto Donadoni's side.

"We'll play our best possible side because Donadoni is doing some great work at Bologna and they have nothing to lose against us," said Allegri. "This match is worth a small part of the scudetto. We need the three points. Napoli, who are one point behind, won't give us an inch. We have to either maintain or improve our lead."

With Napoli not hosting AC Milan until Monday, a win at Bologna would give Juventus  a four-point lead over the weekend.

Juventus confounded the pundits to make the Champions League final last May, only to be outclassed 3-1 by Barcelona.

The Italian champions are again being cast in the role of underdogs in the competition.

But, after their shock to Real Madrid in last year's semi-final, belief is not in short supply.

That confidence should also stand the Turin giants in good stead for the title run-in.

"There's still a long way to go," said Alessandra Bocci, a football writer at theGazetta dello Sport in Milan. "Juventus are so strong mentally. They have won four titles on the trot and have a lot of experience. They have quality players and after going through a bad period at the start of the season; they are top. It's obviously not yet over but for me it's difficult to imagine any team other than Juventus wining the Serie A title."

Despite last weekend's loss in Turin, the Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis said the club was alive and kicking despite a 1-0 first leg loss at Villareal in the last 32 of the Europa League.

"We have to get over these things, not cry about it," De Laurentiis told Radio Kiss Kiss. "This is a defect we all have in the south of Italy, we cry over things like there's been a death. We are alive and kicking."

Napoli, who are chasing a first Serie A title in 26 years, entertain AC Milan on Monday night. Milan are unbeaten in nine outings in all competitions and visit the San Paolo looking for their fifth win in their past seven league games.

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