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Mazzarri maintains title hope

Napoli coach Walter Mazzarri believes his side can still pip Juventus to the Serie A title as they prepare to face AC Milan on Sunday.

Juve are top of the league, boasting a nine-point cushion, but the 51-year-old is refusing to give up on the Scudetto.

“No, there is no regret for not being closer to Juventus in the table,” he told reporters ahead of his side’s trip to the San Siro.

“There are still seven games to go. Of course it is very unlikely that we can finish on top, but in football everything can happen, so you never know.

“Once again I am pointing out that we have been enjoying a great season. Looking at our numbers, we have got 14 points more than last season.”

Looking ahead to the San Siro clash, Mazzarri said he was expecting a great encounter and warned his players not to underestimate Giampaolo Pazzini, who is expected to deputise for the suspended Mario Balotelli.

“It is going to be a fascinating game,” he said. “Games like these do not need any further presentation. We will have to play at our best level.

“Milan have changed a lot this year, but despite integrating many new young players, the team has managed to remain at high levels.

“Being satisfied with a draw tomorrow is not our way of thinking. We are leading now, but never take anything for granted. Only at the end we will count our points.

“In my opinion Pazzini is a great player, and they also have so many champions. Besides, they were doing well even before Balotelli’s arrival.”

AC Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri, whose team sit four points behind Napoli, is hoping they can finish second.

“We still have a lot of games before the end of the season, there are still chances to close the gap,” he said.

“But obviously – having left two precious points in Florence last week – if we want to increase the chances to finish the season in second place we will need to try and win the game tomorrow.

“This doesn’t mean we must be reckless, we need to play with great balance, because Napoli are very good at managing the ball and they’re also great on the counter attack, they can be very dangerous, that’s why we need balance and patience.”

Sun 14 April, 2013
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