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Serie A Preview: Napoli welcome Empoli as PSG loom

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Napoli prepare for PSG with a game against Empoli. AFP

Serie A Preview: Napoli welcome Empoli as PSG loom

BeSoccer by BeSoccer @besoccer_com - 1 5,132

Napoli will be looking to hit struggling Empoli hard in Friday's early Serie A match to keep touch with leaders Juventus before next week's Champions League blockbuster against Paris Saint-Germain.

Carlo Ancelotti knows well that at home against Empoli, his side have to get back on track for the title after last Sunday's 1-1 draw against Roma, thanks to Dries Mertens' late equaliser.

Napoli, with 22 points from 10 games, are now third, level on points with Inter Milan, who are ahead on goal difference, but six points adrift of seven-time champions Juventus.

"We will fight to the end, the goal is very clear," said Ancelotti at Thursday's press conference.

"There are several teams that aim to get closer to Juve, Inter had a positive run and they're closer like us and that increases the competitiveness of the championship.

"AC Milan are getting closer now too."

The Napoli coach was playing his cards close to his chest as he ruled out resting players including Lorenzo Insigne ahead of Tuesday's game at home against PSG.

"If there's rotation I will do it only to put on fresh players for this game.

"Some players will change but I won't name names to keep you guessing.

"The next match is not in my thoughts, the one against Empoli is now the most important."

"We're in a good period, we're in good shape mentally and physically .. but there are always pitfalls just around the corner."

Empoli lost 2-1 to Juventus last weekend after a Cristiano Ronaldo double, and are in the relegation zone with just three points from their last nine games.

- 'Built to win' -

Massimiliano Allegri's Juventus host Cagliari on Saturday, before next week's visit by Manchester United, with Inter Milan at home against Genoa on Saturday, ahead of their date with Barcelona in the San Siro.

Allegri remains wary of the threat of resurgent Inter, who are looking for their seventh straight league win against Genoa, who have just three days to recover from their 2-1 loss to AC Milan.

"Inter had a great game against Lazio (last weekend) and are an important rival against whom we should have great respect," said Allegri.

"They have all the credentials to compete for the title, the team was built to win the Scudetto and to fight with us and Napoli.

"Spalletti is a very experienced coach and has brought Inter to the Champions League."

Juventus midfielder Miralem Pjanic said that the Champions League was top of their thoughts after away wins in Valencia and Manchester.

"It's the main objective, but we naturally want to continue winning also in the championship," said the Bosnian.

Mario Mandzukic is back in the group along with Sami Khedira, but muscle problems have limited Federico Bernardeschi and Giorgio Chiellini, who have been training separately.

Ronaldo, meanwhile, will look to add to his tally of seven goals in 10 Serie A games before hosting his former club Manchester United, after hitting another mark this week with the most followers on Instagram.

The Portuguese superstar, embroiled in off-pitch problems after being accused of rape in the United States, now has 144 million followers worldwide, to overtake American singer Selena Gomez.

Roma, down in eighth, travel to Fiorentina before next week's journey to CSKA Moscow.

City rivals Lazio host SPAL needing a win to overtake AC Milan who now occupy the final Champions League place ahead of the Romans.

Gennaro Gattuso's Milan visit Udinese looking for back-to-back wins after their 3-2 midweek success over Sampdoria.

Serie A fixtures (all times GMT)

Friday: Napoli v Empoli (1930)

Saturday: Inter Milan v Genoa (1400), Fiorentina v Roma (1700), Juventus v Cagliari (1930)

Sunday: Lazio v SPAL (1130); Chievo v Sassuolo, Parma v Frosinone, Sampdoria v Torino (1400), Bologna v Atalanta (1700), Udinese v AC Milan (1930)

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