Serie A Scudetto Race Is Slowly Becoming More Open

Niccolo Conte@@NiccolocContributor IJanuary 11, 2011

NAPLES, ITALY - JANUARY 09:  Hugo Campagnaro of SSC Napoli and Luca Toni of FC Juventus compete for the ball during the Serie A match between SSC Napoli and Juventus FC at Stadio San Paolo on January 9, 2011 in Naples, Italy.  (Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images)
Claudio Villa/Getty Images

Each team has ups and downs during their season, while some teams are prospering more than ever.

We are beginning to see others crack under the pressure.

The Serie A had been dominated by an overpowered Inter Milan side and when Benitez came in with his tough regime, the champions were unable to continue. Key players became injured, Inter was falling behind and Benitez ultimately got himself kicked out. 

AC Milan took this opportunity, and they now find themselves at the top of the table, leading the race for the scudetto. But the lead which AC Milan had over the rest of the pack slowly whittled away with poorer performances.

Now, the Rossoneri's lead has whittled down to just four points over second-placed Lazio.

Will Massimiliano Allegri's side manage to keep the wins coming, or are they beginning to show signs of faltering?

Napoli have fought hard to be in second place. The culmination of their efforts came this past weekend when they defeated Juventus 3-0. What makes this victory even sweeter is AC Milan drew 4-4 against Udinese, allowing Napoli to narrow their gap to the top to just four points.

Edinson Cavani has been delivering the goals needed to maintain this scudetto charge and the young Uruguayan has 13 goals so far in the Serie A.

Another South-American who has been contributing is Ezequiel Lavezzi. The Argentine has tirelessly been a nuisance to defences in the Serie A, being selfless in creating chances for his teammates. 

But it's not all about the two forwards; Hamsik has revived himself after his disappointing 2009/10 season and Christian Maggio has made the right wing his own with his endless running.

Walter Mazzarri has done a fantastic job motivating this team to fight for not only a Champions League spot, but maybe even the title.

It is nice to see Lazio in third place. I knew that Edi Reja would bring the club to great heights, but I didn't expect them to reach so high so quickly. Reja managed to unify a distant group, showing them that as a team they can achieve great things.

While in the past few seasons the club relied on Zarate and Rocchi to provide the goals, now they are a complete group thanks to a solid midfield.

The class of Hernanes oozes around the field through his passing, Mauri is a spirited captain who fights until the end, and Ledesma has been keeping the balance of the midfield with his consistent performances.

A tough week is coming up for Lazio: They host Sampdoria at home and then they play a midweek Rome derby in the Coppa Italia against Roma.

While it would be unexpected for this Lazio side to win the scudetto, their consistency has been strong. The scudetto might be a step a bit to big for Reja's team to take, but they can certainly start by securing a Champions League place and progressing from there.

While it might be a bit early to talk about Inter as proper scudetto contenders, Leonardo can be within five points of AC Milan if his team manage to win their two games in hand.

Another thing the Brazilian coach has going for him is the statistic that none of Inter's previous eleven managers had won their first two matches. That can be changed to three and maybe even four because Inter Milan will be hosting Genoa in the Coppa Italia and then Bologna in the Serie A.

These two matches seem fairly simple for Inter to win, and it would be a great spring towards the scudetto.

Saying all of this, it is still difficult to predict which team will win the Serie A this season. While AC Milan would be the easy choice, Napoli and Lazio both have a new-found determination which shouldn't be underestimated.

Along with those two clubs, Inter Milan could revive their chances with their new manager, making for an exciting finish to an open scudetto race.


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