Tonight's derby d'Italia could tell us whether Inter under Leonardo are the 'real deal'.


This year's race at the top is extrememly tight, with a loss or even a draw sending clubs bouncing in and out of the European places from week to week.


At the minute Milan have looked like the class of the league, and yesterday's 4-0 drubbing of Parma showed that they are still scoring for fun. They have a number of injuries, but thus far they seem to be ticking over despite having to improvise at times. They did very well in the transfer window, and once Cassano gets to full fitness you have to think that their threat up front will only get better. Ibra has become a god in the other half of Milan, and even Robinho looks up for it.


Napoli have kept pace with the leaders, their easy win over Roma yesterday finds them just 3 points off the pace. Do they have enough to go all the way? I'm not sure the squad is up to it, but as long as Cavanni keeps knocking them in it could be interesting.


Lazio have gone 3rd with their victory over the hapless Brescia, and whilst I keep expecting them to falter, they've managed to keep pace, and could certainly act as spoiler as well as taking the bragging rights in the capital.


Inter are now only 8 off the top, with 2 games in hand. If they manage to beat Juve, Milan will feel the hot breath of their city rivals on their neck, and that will make their derby coming in April very exciting and possibly a title-decider. Despite rumours of their demise, I don't think we've seen the last of them, and with their squad (even with the residual injury problems) I think they'll be the most likely challengers to Milan. The Samp old boys Pazzini v Cassano cross-town scoring rivalry should be an interesting side show.


Udinese are the form team at the minute, another great win today means that the horrors of the early season are well and truly forgotten. Are they this year's Roma, going on a big tear only to fall just short?


Palermo, Roma and Juve have fallen off the pace, very streaky in patches. Palermo's rock solid home form deserted them today, which was a shock to me given the opposition. Roma have been horribly frustrating this year, and Ranieri must feel like a teacher with a bunch of squabbling kiddies. He may be trying to send them a message, but it's not working. They were USELESS against Napoli last evening, suffering their first home loss in 10 months. They still have the squad to compete, but I'm half expecting them to fail in their quest for European football. They should try and win the CL this year (LOL) because they won't be in it next!  Juve can act as a spoiler, they seem to go from heroic victories to silly defeats. They don't score enough goals for me, and European football is probably going to be beyond them, just as it is for Roma.


I think the European fortunes (or misfortunes as the case may be) may be the decider. If Roma, Inter or Milan go out soon, they can focus on the league and better or consolidate their position. Not sure how far Napoli want to go in the Europa, although I would suppose that a trophy and a solid CL spot for next year would be just the ticket.


Tags: Inter, Juventus, Lazio, Milan, Napoli, Palermo, Roma, Udinese

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