Roberto Mancini points out that Juventus remain “the best” team in Serie A, but praised Inter coach Antonio Conte and said Lazio “are the big surprise”.

There’s a three-way battle for the Scudetto this term and the Italy CT has claimed “it’s normal” that Juventus are going through a difficult time.

But the Azzurri coach added that Maurizio Sarri’s team are still the strongest side in Italy ahead of some exciting matches to come.

“Serie A is a beautiful competition, with three teams fighting for the top spot and all the direct meetings are still to be played,” Mancini told the Gazzetta dello Sport. “After many years of winning, it’s normal to go through a complicated moment. This is also because Juventus have changed their coach and several of their players.

“In Italy we are used to exaggerate after a defeat, but Sarri’s team remain the best.”

“Inter and Lazio did well when they took advantage of Juve’s setback, if they manage to stay in touch, they could fight for the title,” he added. “Lazio are the big surprise. On Sunday they will play Inter in a very important game.

“I will compliment Conte, for what he has proven. He got the players he wanted, and he is taking Inter back to where they deserve to be.”

The Italy coach also spoke about Milan, who are currently 10th in the League, and hinted that they may lack stability in their squad at San Siro.

“Milan have good players and are improving every year,” he said. “I’m not of the opinion that you have to sell the players and look for others every season. In that way, the team don’t have the fundament to build on.

“[Zlatan] Ibrahimovic is a great champion. He has his age, but he can still do well when he plays. I think he has been one of the best players in the world.”

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Football Italia staff