Two of the main challengers for the Scudetto meet in the Coppa Italia on Tuesday as Roberto Mancini’s men travel to face the Serie A leaders
In-form striker Gonzalo Higuain is eager to carry Napoli’s Serie A momentum into the quarter-finals of the Coppa Italia this week as they face Inter at the San Paolo.
The Serie A leaders sit two points clear at the summit following a 3-1 win over Sassuolo on Saturday, a result that saw Jose Callejon equalise before Higuain took his tally to 20 league goals this season with a brace.
A run of four straight wins has seen Napoli bolster their hopes of landing the Scudetto for the first time since 1990, while Inter’s credentials have taken a hit following defeat to Sassuolo and a draw at Atalanta.
With confidence already high in Naples, Maurizio Sarri’s men will also be buoyed by their seven-game unbeaten streak against Inter, which includes a 2-1 league win in November.
Napoli also ran out 1-0 winners against the Nerazzurri at the same stage of the competition last year and Higuain is keen to maintain his team’s forward momentum.
“Thanks to Sarri and to the team, we are living a positive moment,” he told reporters.
“I’m happy, I’m feeling fine, I work hard every day and I want to thank our manager, who is giving me many suggestions in order to improve and I’m feeling like I’m in a magical moment.
“We should not look at the standings but just keep focused and keep on working hard day after day. Now, we are going to [play in] the Italian Cup and we will have to face another important game.”
Inter needed a Rafael Toloi own-goal to earn them a point at the Stadio Atleti Azzurri d’Italia on Saturday after Jeison Murillo put through his own net.
With Inter making a sluggish start to 2016, Roberto Mancini’s men have slipped to third and the coach urged his side to tighten up as they seek to keep hopes of a league and cup double alive.
“We gave a goal away and that’s happened quite a lot recently. Sometimes we put ourselves under too much pressure because we make mistakes,” he said.
“Just as we were starting to assert ourselves on the game we went and scored an own goal and that encouraged them.
“Then we equalised in the first normal move of the game. At times we want to be too clever but often football is about doing the simple things.
“You have to put the ball in the back of the net and we need to improve our attacking play but you don’t stay top of the league for 15 games by chance. We have our qualities and we mustn’t waste them.
“We need to keep calm because it’s a long season.”