Inter and Juve battle for winter title as Serie A reaches midway point



Fri, 05 Jan 2024 - 09:34 GMT


Fri, 05 Jan 2024 - 09:34 GMT

Inter Milan players pose for a team group photo before the match REUTERS/Daniele Mascolo/File Photo

Inter Milan players pose for a team group photo before the match REUTERS/Daniele Mascolo/File Photo

(Reuters) - The Serie A season reaches the midway point this weekend and while no trophy is up for grabs just yet either Inter Milan or Juventus can claim the title of winter champions.


"Campione d'Inverno" is the unofficial title given to the side leading Serie A at the season's halfway point and can be a good indicator of who will win the Scudetto, with 59 out of 91 winter champions going on to lift the league title.



Inter's 1-1 draw at Genoa last weekend allowed Juve to close the gap on the leaders with a 1-0 home win over AS Roma, and just two points now separate the sides as their impressive form has turned the campaign into a two-horse race.


They each now face teams struggling at the other end of the table - with their opponents having played each other last weekend. Inter host Hellas Verona on Saturday while Juventus travel to Salernitana on Sunday.


Bottom side Salernitana got their second league win of the season with a 1-0 success at Verona last time out and are two points off Verona, who are 17th and one spot above the drop zone.


Simone Inzaghi's Inter have won their last four home league games, but did suffer their only Serie A loss this season at San Siro, to Sassuolo in September, while Verona pushed Juve when they went to Turin in October, losing 1-0 to a 97th minute goal.


It would still be a major shock though if points were dropped this time by an Inter a side with more than double the goal difference of Juventus after having conceded only eight times in 18 games and scoring 42.


Juve are also impressive in defence with 11 goals conceded, but the 27 they have scored shows they are happy to earn narrow victories and manager Massimiliano Allegri will have no complaints if another close game brings his side three points.


The last time Inter held top spot at the midway point was in 2021-22 but AC Milan went on to win the league, reversing the previous season's events when Inter won the Scudetto despite Milan leading halfway through.


Juventus won nine consecutive league titles before that and were crowned winter champions in seven out of those nine seasons. Whoever is top after this weekend, the title race is sure to remain a battle of wits until the end of the campaign.


Milan gave under-pressure manager Stefano Pioli some relief with a 1-0 win over Sassuolo last weekend and travel on Sunday to second-bottom Empoli, who are without a win for six games.


Pioli's side are third, nine points adrift of Inter, seven points off Juve and three points ahead of Fiorentina in fourth. Since their defeat by Milan in November, Fiore have won four games in a five match unbeaten run, conceding just once.


Vincenzo Italiano's side are at Sassuolo on Saturday, while fifth-placed Bologna look to bounce back from a shock 3-0 defeat at Udinese when they host Genoa on Friday.


AS Roma are seventh and a point behind Atalanta who they host at Stadio Olimpico on Sunday when defending champions Napoli, in eighth spot level on points with Roma, visit Torino.



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