Napoli and Juve continue close title race on and off the pitch

After-game interviews add zest to action on the pitch, as shown by recent exchanges between Napoli and Juventus that are livening up the neck-and-neck race for the Serie A title.

Napoli coach Maurizio Sarri must be pleased about his Sunday home game to Bologna, which allows the Serie A leaders to play a day after chasers Juventus visit Chievo.

The Neapolitans' tactician has complained about frequently having to play before the reigning champions, but Juve boss Massimiliano Allegri declined to engage in what seems to be psychological warfare as the two sides sit one point apart in the race for the title.

"I do want to point out a mistake from the league, who have organized it in such a way that we've played before Juventus on nine separate occasions," Sarri said after last Sunday's 1-0 win at tough Atalanta.

"I'm sure the decision was made in good faith, but it must be said that they could have organized things more fairly."

Allegri, who Monday saw his squad struggle to edge 1-0 lowly Genoa, gave short shrift to the hint to favouritism.

"Games are to be played, period," Allegri said. "I am given a calendar, I look at the games and we play them. That's all."

The Bianconeri's coach, meanwhile, is still without the injured goalkeeping captain Gianluigi Buffon, winger Juan Cuadrado and striking talent Paulo Dybala, while midfielder Blaise Matuidi injured himself at the weekend, when Alex Sandro and Sami Khedira were also bruised.

Chievo, holding a six-point cushion to the drop-zone, welcome the title holders late Saturday after a weekend opener between Sassuolo and Atalanta, who then host Juve Tuesday in the first leg of the Italian Cup semi-finals.

The other semi on Wednesday sees AC Milan welcome Lazio in a repeat of Sunday's league game.

Third-placed Lazio beat Udinese 3-0 Wednesday in a catchup game and sit seven points behind Juve.

The absence of league top scorer Ciro Immobile, on 20 goals, was not felt midweek as Lazio, who scored 13 goals in the last three outings, boast a league maximum of 56, more than twice Milan's tally of 27.

Also on Wednesday, Roma drew 1-1 at Sampdoria in another previously cancelled game and again meet the Genoa side late Sunday in Rome.

Fifth-place Roma and Samp occupy the two Europa League places, while Inter Milan are fourth in the Champions League zone before opening the Sunday programme at struggling Spal.

Completing the Sunday afternoon schedule are Genoa v Udinese, Torino v Benevento, Fiorentina v Verona and Crotone v Cagliari.

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