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Talking points from the weekend’s action in Italy. GIROUD STILL MAKES A DIFFERENCE AT 35

Sunday’s top-of-the-table clash between Napoli and AC Milan was settled by Olivier Giroud, who continues to show a remarkable knack for delivering when it matters most. The French striker, 35, has had to get used to a secondary role since arriving from Chelsea in the summer but showed his predatory nature to return home to the region and score his eighth league goal in just 12 starts. Each time he scored, Milan took all three points.

It was the second time in just over a month that Giroud proved decisive in a decisive game, netting twice in the space of four minutes in a comeback win against champions Inter Milano. Victory took Milan two points above Inter and if they can hold off their local rivals to claim a first title in 11 years, Giroud will have played a vital role.

A FEAST OF PENALTIES IN VENICE Venezia’s bid to avoid relegation took another hit when they conceded three penalties in a 4-1 home loss to Sassuolo and missed one themselves.

Domenico Berardi netted the opening spot-kick home to give Sassuolo a two-goal lead, but neglected to take the next penalty after being fouled by the hosts’ goalkeeper, allowing Gianluca Scamacca to take the lead. step in and score. Berardi returned to duty to make it 4-1 in the second half before Venezia finally won a penalty but Mattia Aramu, whose handball had delivered the first kick of the day, had his effort saved.

Venezia, who are third from bottom, have conceded nine penalties this season, trailing Spezia, who have conceded 10.

Whisper it softly, but Juventus are not out of the title race yet. They picked up a 1-0 win at home to Spezia who are struggling to tighten their grip on fourth place and although they trail leaders AC Milan by seven points, a late tilt for the title must not be ruled out.

After losing five of their first 14 games since Massimiliano Allegri’s return to the dugout, they have won nine of their last 14 and are unbeaten since November. They pick up wins without playing particularly well, a feature of their five consecutive title conquests between 2014 and 2019 under Allegri, who also took them to two Champions League finals.

Exclude them at your own risk.

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