World Cup run-up: Juventus, Milan, Inter and Napoli objectives in UCL and Serie A

With this international break drawing to a close, only six weeks stand between now and the break for the World Cup, so where do Napoli, Milan, Inter and Juve want to be ahead of Qatar?

Eight league matches will be played between now and the pause for the tournament, with the final round of games kicking off on the weekend of November 12-13. Serie A will then return on January 4, creating a six-week break for this winter World Cup. 

The Champions League, Europa League and Europa Conference League group stages will all also be completed ahead of this pause, making it clear which teams will need to prepare for Europe and which won’t in the new year.

Juventus

Massimiliano Allegri’s side have an incredibly important six weeks ahead of them following their terrible start to the season. Juventus have only picked up two wins from their first seven Serie A matches and two defeats in the Champions League have only added salt to the wounds in Turin.

The Old Lady have less than two months to try and right the ship in Piedmont before the pressure gets too intense on Allegri and his players, so the team will be looking to pick up at least four or five wins in the league before November 13. Failing to do this could see them seriously slip out of the running in the race for a top-four finish, a disastrous outcome for the Bianconeri. Under such circumstances, the future of Max Allegri would once again become one of the matters on the table at Continassa.

In the Champions League, Juventus sit third in Group H after losses to Paris Saint-Germain and Benfica, so they need to pick up all six points in wins over Maccabi Haifa as well as three points in Portugal if they want hope of reaching the knock-out stages. A win over PSG would also go a long way in restoring faith in the North West of Italy.

Milan

The reigning champions are in a decent spot coming back heading into this six-week spell, but the recent 2-1 loss to Napoli means Stefano Pioli’s side cannot take their foot off the gas as they look to defend their Scudetto, something they haven’t achieved since the early 1990s. Their toughest domestic clash ahead of the World Cup comes against Juventus on October 8.

The Rossoneri have to ensure they pick up all three points in matches against provincial sides like Empoli, Monza and Cremonese if they want to keep up pressure at the top of the Serie A table and slip-ups in this period could prove disastrous should a close title race emerge in the second half of the season.

Milan have had a good start to their Champions League campaign but their two games against Chelsea in the next two weeks are both vital encounters if the team want to progress to the Round of 16, so the Rossoneri will need to come up big against the Blues if they want to finish top of Group E. 

Inter

Simone Inzaghi’s squad have suffered an inconsistent start to the 2022-23 season. Four wins in the first seven games looks good but the three losses hurt the Nerazzurri and leave them stuck in 7th, five points behind league leaders Napoli and Atalanta and only two above a sluggish Juventus side.

On the European scene, a win over Viktoria Plzen takes a little weight off but the loss to Bayern Munich already leaves the team scrambling for a second place finish in Group C, competing with Barcelona for the other knock-out round spot. Wins over the Blaugrana are a must if Inzaghi’s side want to book their spot in the Round of 16.

Inter need to string together a consistent set of results in the league between now and November 13, starting with tough domestic games against Roma and Sassuolo. They’ll also face Fiorentina, Juventus and Atalanta in this period, games that must be won if they want to stay hot on the heels of those fighting for Champions League qualification.

Napoli

The Partenopei have been firing on all cylinders since the season kicked off in August, flying to the top of the Serie A table with wins over Lazio, Milan, Hellas Verona, Spezia and Monza. Draws against Fiorentina and Lecce look frustrating in retrospect, but Luciano Spalletti’s side are hungry for their first Scudetto in over three decades and so far are on the right tracks.

Napoli’s work in the Champions League has also drawn praise from across the continent. A dominant 4-1 win over Liverpool and a comfortable 3-0 dispatching of Rangers leave the team top of Group A and a couple of wins in their remaining four games already book their spot in the knock-out stages, starting with Ajax on October 4.

Spalletti and his squad need to maintain their early momentum if they want to put together a serious Scudetto bid this season. Domestic clashes with Roma, Sassuolo, Atalanta and an in-form Udinese are all tough but revealing tests and wins in these games would add weight to their ambitions. 

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