MILAN — Each time Napoli has been examined this season, it has responded admirably.

From trouncing Liverpool and Ajax — 4-1 and 6-1, respectively — within the Champions League, to beating defending Serie A champion AC Milan at San Siro and edging Roma on the Stadio Olimpico.

That has left Napoli vying for its first league title because the days of Diego Maradona in 1990. However the southern membership faces maybe one in every of its most essential checks on Saturday at second-place Atalanta.

A win for Napoli would ship the workforce eight factors clear on the prime of the standings, albeit presumably just for just a few hours earlier than third-place Milan hosts Spezia. Milan is presently six factors behind Napoli, the one unbeaten workforce remaining in Serie A.

Napoli’s different rivals might additionally lose factors. The groups from fourth to seventh are taking part in one another on Sunday, with Roma internet hosting Lazio within the capital derby and Inter Milan touring to Juventus.

Napoli misplaced its first match in any competitors this season at Liverpool within the Champions League on Tuesday. However the workforce carried out effectively at Anfield and misplaced on two late targets and tight offside selections.

The Italian workforce nonetheless received its group, and Liverpool ahead Mohamed Salah labeled Napoli “among the finest groups on the earth.”

It should take one thing particular from Atalanta on Saturday to cease Napoli’s stellar assault, which has scored 50 targets in 18 matches whereas conceding solely 15.

Atalanta’s assault hasn’t been as free-flowing as in earlier seasons, however the workforce has been strong on the again with solely eight targets conceded this season. Solely Juventus has allowed fewer in Serie A.

Atalanta misplaced its first match of the season two weeks in the past, at dwelling towards Lazio.

“Towards Napoli we’ll see if the match towards Lazio gave us some classes,” Atalanta coach Gian Piero Gasperini mentioned. “It’s not the suitable second to dream. We are going to nonetheless have a tough few weeks with decisive matches to know amid such robust groups as Napoli, what degree we’re at.

“We’ll attempt to drill some holes in (Napoli coach Luciano) Spalletti’s facet, just like the worst dentist. They’re one of the best workforce in the meanwhile for the best way they’re taking part in and the keenness they’ve. By the legislation of averages, it would even be that their title cost is halted in Bergamo.”

There are solely three units of matches remaining earlier than Serie A takes a break for the World Cup and the Christmas interval. The league will resume on Jan. 4.

Atalanta may even face Lecce and Inter earlier than the break. After the journey to Bergamo, Napoli hosts Empoli after which Udinese, which began off the season surprisingly effectively however has dropped off the tempo in latest weeks.

“There’s no concern of Napoli, simply nice admiration. It’s been extraordinary,” Gasperini mentioned. “What’s essential is that they don’t do effectively in Bergamo. We have to have a terrific recreation towards a workforce that’s as robust as they’re.”

AP World Cup protection: and

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