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Fiorentina came into today's game against Cagliari with an opportunity to temporarily tie Napoli for third place in Serie A. However, the southern Italian side had other plans and were able to pull off a victory at home against the Viola. Cagliari have had their fair of issues with their home stadium(s) over the past couple of seasons, but despite capacity being set at a limited 5,000 people, Pinilla's first half goal was enough to see Cagliari through.

Fiorentina have managed to create a substantial 8 point gap over fifth placed Inter, but have failed to take advantage of Napoli's recent slip ups. Napoli have tied their last two games against Bologna and Chievo, and if Fiorentina managed to get the job done last week against Genoa and this week against Cagliari, they'd be sitting in a Champions League spot at the moment. However, one must forgive Fiorentina if they have struggled as of late considering they are without the team's two marquee players.

Mario Gomez was a massive signing for Fiorentina this summer as they were able to pry the German striker away from a handful of other suitors. Unfortunately for Gomez and Fiorentina though, the player has not been able to return yet from an early season impact. The Gomez injury would be more manageable if Fiorentina didn't just lose the league's leading goal scorer, Giuseppe Rossi. Rossi went down with another knee injury a few weeks ago and is hoping to return  before the World Cup.This left Fiorentina stranded and forced to sign striker Alessandro Matri. 

Fiorentina will be in for a long fight in order to reach their preseason goal of Champions League qualification. With a win over Atalanta tomorrow, Napoli could create a 6 point gap over the Viola for the final spot in Italy.   


Manchester United have gotten off to a terrible start by their standards.  Currently, they sit outside of the UEFA Champions League places and are competing for a Europa League spot.  It would be a disaster for David Moyes and the Reds if they did not qualify for Europe next season.  The team is in desperate need for some reinforcements to help them compete during the rest of the campaign, and it looks as though Moyes has turned his attention to Italy for the answers.

On Sunday, Moyes was spotted at the Cagliari-Juventus game as he was supposedly on hand to watch Cagliari centre back Davide Astori.  However, rumors have emerged that Moyes was also on hand to keep a close eye on several Juventus players including Arturo Vidal, Andrea Pirlo, and Claudio Marchisio.  Whether Manchester United is seriously interested in any of these players remains to be seen, but the fact Moyes has taken the time out of his schedule to watch these guys personally speaks volumes.

Moyes has opted to kill two birds with one stone, and while in Italy to watch Cagliari and Juventus, he decided to stay in Italy and take advantage of Napoli's midweek Coppa Italia fixture against Atalanta. Moyes will be present at the San Paolo to watch Marek Hamsik as Manchester United are seeking a creative and attacking midfielder.  However, it will be very difficult to convince Hamsik to depart from the Southern Italian club, and even more difficult to convince Napoli to sell him considering they are flushed with money at the moment.

Manchester United have been linked with a plethora of players during the January transfer window and it  will be quite interesting to see who the Reds ultimately end up signing.  However, Moyes has made it quite clear with the time he has allocated in Itay, that he is looking at several Serie A players. 


Champions Juventus travel to Cagliari expecting to reinforce their lead at the top of Serie A as the Italian top flight reaches the halfway stage this weekend. Juventus played second fiddle to early season pacesetters Roma for the first three months of the season but in the lead-up to the Christmas break, Antonio Conte's men moved up a gear. And on their return from well-earned holidays last week, the Bianconeri hit three unanswered goals against Roma in Turin to put a dent in the Giallorossi's title hopes.

Heading into the 19th round of matches Juve (49 points) have an eight-point lead on Roma with Napoli, in third, a further two points off the pace. However as the pundits herald this season's Juve as one of the best, Andrea Barzagli has called for calm: "We still have 20 games left," said the Juventus and Italy defender.

"Eight points is a good advantage but there is still so much to play for until the end of the season."

Nevertheless, with Roma slipping up again and Napoli already 10 points behind, the pundits have been going Juve-crazy this week. Conte's men have won 10 games on the trot since suffering the ignominy of a 4-2 defeat at Fiorentina, currently fourth, at the end of October -- and some believe they could beat Inter Milan's record 97-point haul from 2007, maybe even, in the process, breaking the 100-point barrier. Cagliari, meanwhile, will welcome the champions without Radja Nainggolan, the Belgian international midfielder who signed for Roma in midweek on a four-year deal.

Nainggolan, who made his debut for Roma in Thursday's Cup quarter-final (XX-XX) over Sampodoria, will prove a useful edition to Garcia's side and is likely to slot straight in when the Giallorossi welcome Genoa on Sunday. But according to reports, his arrival has prompted American midfielder Michael Bradley to accept an offer to join Toronto FC. AC Milan, meanwhile, trumped Roma in the transfer market stakes this week when Japan international star Keisuke Honda was officially unveiled by the club following his free transfer from CSKA Moscow.

For outside observers, Honda -- reportedly a target for several major clubs -- could arguably have made a better choice. Milan are currently languishing in the bottom half of the table and face a daunting challenge to qualify for next season's Champions League. The Japanese international midfielder will also play no part in Milan's remaining Champions League campaign this season as he already featured in the competition for CSKA.

However, when asked why he chose Milan, Honda insisted: "When I was a kid I watched football on television every week and Serie A was the most famous league in Japan. My dream was to play for Milan and now that dream has come true."

Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri did not say when Honda will make his debut but insisted the attacking midfielder is an important addition to the squad. Milan are currently 11th, 27 points behind Juve and 17 behind Napoli in the final Champions League qualifying spot. They travel to struggling top-flight new boys Sassuolo, needing no less than three points. While Milan can only get better, city rivals Inter are looking for the spark that will halt their slide down the table that has left them sixth place having been within sight of Napoli only a few weeks ago.

Inter coach Walter Mazzarri has been growing increasingly frustrated with his side of late and after last week's 1-0 defeat at Lazio, the home goalkeeper Etrit Berisha gave a stark appraisal of Mazzarri's side: "To be honest, Inter are the most prestigious club I have faced in my career but they didn't seem extraordinary to me," he told Panorama Sport.

Inter's problems worsened on Thursday when they were dumped out of the Italian Cup at the last-16 stage 1-0 by Udinese.