Football: Roma out to take charge atop congested pack

Football: Roma out to take charge atop congested pack
AS Roma's midfielder Mohamed Salah celebrates with teammates after scoring during the Italian Serie A football match against Fiorentina.
PHOTO: AFP

MILAN - Roma will seek to succeed where both Fiorentina and Inter Milan have failed by entrenching themselves at the top of Serie A when they go in search of a fifth consecutive win at home to Udinese on Wednesday.

Goals from Mohamed Salah and Gervinho in a 2-1 win over Fiorentina at the weekend fired Rudi Garcia's men to the top of Serie A for the first time this season to underline their title credentials.

After a middling start, Roma have hit their stride but Frenchman Garcia played down any premature talk of the Giallorossi landing their first scudetto since 2001 when Fabio Capello was in charge.

"We can't be favourites now just because we're in first place. Not so long ago we were all rubbish, from the players to the coach and even the sporting director," Garcia told media after his side's victory saw them replace Fiorentina at the summit.

"We just keep doing our job and right now we're first after a quarter of the season. I don't need to tell my players they need to keep their feet on the ground.

"We believe in ourselves if we stick together and show humility, but there's a long way to go," he added.

However, Garcia will be without suspended midfield general Daniele de Rossi as well as leading scorer Salah, who was sent off towards the end of Sunday's victory in Florence.

Napoli are up to second having also reeled off four straight wins, the latest a Gonzalo Higuain-inspired 1-0 victory at Chievo, but the Argentine said he and his team-mates weren't looking too far ahead.

"We are sending a message to ourselves. We're focusing only on what we do and not looking at what the other teams are doing," Higuain told Sky Sport Italia.

"It's a very balanced league and there are several teams bunched together with a very long way to go," added the Argentina striker, the league's joint-top scorer this term with seven goals.

Back-to-back defeats have dropped Fiorentina from first to third but a trip to winless Verona will give La Viola a chance to rediscover the form that enabled Paulo Sousa's men to begin the season with six wins in seven matches.

Inter Milan's title challenge has also lost steam with Roberto Mancini's men winless in their last four outings, but the Nerazzurri will strive to get back on track Tuesday when they travel to 18th-placed Bologna.

Fifth-placed Lazio, one of four teams just two points behind leaders Roma, head to Atalanta vying for a fifth win in six, while AC Milan, who recorded a first win in four after beating Sassuolo 2-1 on Sunday, are at home to Chievo.

Struggling champions Juventus appear to be finally finding some form with seven points from their last three matches. Massimiliano Allegri's 12th-placed side will aim to continue their resurgence when they travel to Sassuolo.

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