With the 2023/24 Serie A season hurtling towards the halfway mark, the top of the table paints an intriguing picture for the title contenders.
Inter Milan took advantage of a slip from Juventus to move four points clear of their rivals last weekend, but it would be foolish to think the job is done just yet.
Online bookmakers clearly disagree with that viewpoint, with Inter now rated as 2/9 shots to claim top spot. By contrast, Juventus are priced at 4/1 to win the title.
You would need the ability to predict when a jackpot would land on games such as Lucky Lady’s Charm to envision any other team emerging victorious, although it is not beyond the realms of possibility.
Unexpected things often happen on slots games, and clubs such as AC Milan and Napoli will be hoping something similar occurs in Serie A this season.
However, given their respective form up to this point, it is difficult to imagine the league title not ending up with either of the current top two teams at the end of the season.
Inter boosted their hopes last weekend courtesy of an impressive 2-0 victory at Lazio – their first win at the Rome side’s home stadium since October 2018.
Lautaro Martinez and Marcus Thuram were on target to leave head coach Simone Inzaghi delighted after what has been a hectic spell for his team.
“As a coach it feels good to win a match like that,” Inzaghi said. “We covered the pitch well, conceding only one chance to (Nicolo) Rovella. We were a team in difficult moments.
“We have to continue in this way, playing as a team. The boys have to keep challenging me every training session because we play so much.”
Inzaghi’s comments about the number of games his team have played are undoubtedly noteworthy, and things could get trickier as the season progresses.
While Juventus have been able to put their feet up in midweek after being banned from UEFA competitions, Inter have been navigating the group stage in the Champions League.
They qualified with ease from Group D alongside Real Sociedad, and are now scheduled to face Atletico Madrid in the last-16 of the competition.
Although Inter will be keen to make another deep run having reached the final last season, the additional workload may ultimately have a detrimental impact on their Serie A title hopes.
They will undoubtedly take heart from Juve’s recent 1-1 draw at Genoa – a result which handed them a useful four-point lead at the top of the standings.
Juventus manager Massimiliano Allegri claimed after the game that he was satisfied with the result, but midfielder Manuel Locatelli was less enamoured.
“We have to improve – sometimes we get caught up in the frenzy,” he told DAZN. “There have always been things to improve, not only today.
“We conceded a goal that we usually don’t concede, these things can happen, but then you have to react. Opportunities must be seized. We have to take the leap of scoring more and closing out games.
“There’s regret – we wanted to come here and win. Now we have to work for Frosinone. We have the same hunger as always. The spirit is the right one to move forward.”
Although Locatelli was understandably disappointed after the Genoa game, he is experienced enough to know that the title race is far from over.
Both teams have plenty of winnable games over the next few weeks, and there will likely be little to choose between them when they meet at the San Siro in early February.
Juventus will need at least a draw from that encounter to keep their title hopes alive, and they are certainly capable of achieving that. However, the ultimate aim will be collecting all three points.
It is worth noting that Juve triumphed 1-0 in the corresponding fixture last season, which demonstrates they should head into their next meeting in a confident frame of mind.
The key for Allegri’s team will be to keep within touching distance of their title rivals until the Champions League resumes in February.
The longer Inter remain in that competition, the more difficult it will become to maintain their relentless form in Serie A, especially given some of the league fixtures they will face.
Bologna (A), Napoli (H), AC Milan (A), Torino (H) and Lazio (H) are among the significant hurdles Inter must overcome during the latter stages of the season.
While Inter are worthy favourites with the bookmakers at the moment given they have a four-point advantage, Juventus appeal as the value bet to overhaul them on the run-in.
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