Inter Milan, who a week ago were talking up their chances of winning Serie A, have re-entered crisis mode after slumping to two home defeats in five days.
Last Saturday's home defeat to Udinese in Serie A was followed by a 2-1 defeat against CSKA Moscow in the Champions League on Wednesday, forcing coach Claudio Ranieri and his players back on the defensive.
The unbridled optimism which preceded the Udinese game has been replaced by the familiar talk about Inter's players being good enough to pull the team out of trouble.
Inter, who had already qualified for the Champions League last 16 before Wednesday's shock reverse, have lost nine of their 19 competitive games this season including four at the San Siro, where they host Fiorentina on Saturday.
"The defeats against Udinese and CSKA were disappointing but we have the strength and the quality to get out of this situation," said goalkeeper Luca Castellazzi.
"A good result against Fiorentina could put us back on the right track."
"It might seem strange but the team is in good shape; that's what our analyses have shown," said coach Claudio Ranieri, Inter's fourth coach since Jose Mourinho quit at the end of the treble-winning 2009/10 season.
"We have to remain calm without being downbeat, otherwise we'd get our approach to the match wrong."
Ranieri's team have dropped back down to 15th in the table with 14 points from 12 games, much closer to Novara in the relegation zone (10 points) than leaders Juventus, who have 29.
Inter have a lengthy injury list but may at least have full-back Maicon and midfielder Wesley Sneijder fit to face Fiorentina, who themselves have flirted with crisis talk all season.
A 3-0 win over AS Roma 3-0 last Sunday has eased the pressure somewhat on coach Delio Rossi, who replaced the sacked Sinisa Mihajlovic last month.
Eighth-placed Roma, who had three players sent off in that game, host unbeaten leaders Juventus on Monday, when a win would do wonders for coach Luis Enrique and his beleaguered team.
Udinese, level with Milan in second place and two points behind Juventus, are at home to Chievo as they attempt to follow up their wins over Roma and Inter in the last two games. Champions Milan visit struggling Bologna on Sunday.
Fifth-placed Napoli, ecstatic after qualifying for the last 16 of the Champions League along with Milan and Inter, are away to relegation-threatened Novara on Sunday.comments