Serie A: Lukaku, Lautaro in focus as Inter takes on Atalanta

Both eight-time holder Juventus and Inter Milan are top of the Italian league table on 45 points after 18 games, with Conte's side ahead on goal difference.

Antonio Conte will be counting on Inter Milan strike duo Romelu Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez to come good against Atalanta.   -  GETTY IMAGES

Antonio Conte will be counting on Inter Milan strike duo Romelu Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez in Saturday's Serie A clash against free-scoring Atalanta to keep ahead of champions Juventus which travels to Roma.

Both eight-time holder Juventus and Inter Milan are top of the Italian league table on 45 points after 18 games, with Conte's side ahead on goal difference.

Inter and fifth-placed Atalanta have had the most potent attacks so far this season in Serie A, setting the scene for a potential goal-fest in the San Siro.

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Gian Piero Gasperini's Atalanta is 11 points off the leader but coming off back-to-back league wins with 10 goals scored — a 5-0 scoreline against both AC Milan and Parma.

Gasperini coached Inter for five winless games before being sacked in 2011. But he has transformed the Bergamo side which finished third last season.

It has scored 48 goals so far this season and another on Saturday would see it become the most prolific team in Serie A in the past 60 years.

It will be keen to impress at the San Siro where it hosts Valencia in its Champions League last 16 first leg tie on February 19.

Inter failed to qualify for the European knockout rounds and is targeting its first Serie A title since 2010.

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Conte believes that Lukaku and Martinez, who both scored in last weekend's 3-1 win over Napoli, are only beginning to hit their stride.

The pair have accounted for 23 of Inter's 39 Serie A goals, and 30 in all competitions.

Lukaku is the second highest scorer in Serie A, behind Lazio's Ciro Immobile.

His double against Napoli took his tally for the season to 14, overtaking the 12 he scored in his final season with Manchester United.

Gasperini's side is one point behind Roma, which occupies the final Champions League place, and hosts Juventus on Sunday.

The champion beat Cagliari 4-0 last time out with Cristiano Ronaldo scoring a hat-trick.

Roma coach Paulo Fonseca insisted his side could bounce back from the 2-0 defeat at home against Torino last weekend.

City rival Lazio is now positioned among the title challengers, three points behind the leader in third, before hosting struggling Napoli.

Simone Inzaghi's side can push its winning streak in the league against eight-placed Napoli which is 11 points off the Champions League place.

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One to watch

Zlatan Ibrahimovic, 38, could get his first start for struggling AC Milan against Cagliari after his substitute role in its goalless draw against Sampdoria.

“I see Ibrahimovic as a big brother,” said Portugal Under-21 forward Leao.

“He's a great player and I want to learn as much as I can with him by my side. Any team with Ibrahimovic in it has a better chance of success.”

The former European giant is 12th in the table, 23 points behind the leader. But Cagliari has won just one of its last 31 Serie A games against AC Milan.

Key statistics

13 - AC Milan's points off the Champions League

9 - Lazio's league winning streak

1 - Napoli's wins from its last ten games

Fixtures (all times GMT)

Saturday

Cagliari v AC Milan (1400), Lazio v Napoli (1700), Inter Milan v Atalanta (1945)

Sunday

Udinese v Sassuolo (1130), Fiorentina v SPAL, Sampdoria v Brescia, Torino v Bologna (all 1400), Verona v Genoa (1700), AS Roma v Juventus (1945)

Monday

Parma v Lecce (1945)

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