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Lippi defends stuttering AC Milan

World Cup-winning manager Marcello Lippi has leapt to the defence of AC Milan after their disappointing start to the Serie A season.

Lippi, currently in charge of Chinese club Guangzhou Evergrande, said he was not concerned by Milan's poor form, which has seen them lose two of their opening three matches.

He told La Gazzetta dello Sport: "It is normal to talk about a crisis in Italy, and starting with two defeats at home isn't the best. However, when you lose important players like Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Thiago Silva it's normal to have problems."

Lippi went on to claim that he was once in contact with Milan prior to their appointment of Massimiliano Allegri as head coach.

He said: "Have Milan ever contacted me? We were close a couple of years ago, but then took other paths."

The 64-year-old went on to reflect on this season's challengers for the Serie A title, expressing his belief that Napoli are perhaps the most likely to rival champions Juventus.

He said: "Napoli deserve special attention: they may be the anti-Juve. Their team has been built over the years with great wisdom and intuition.

"They have a great coach who has enhanced the players at his disposal, and they grew during their splendid Champions League campaign last year."

Lippi enjoyed the most successful spell of his career at Juventus, and has backed them to impress in Europe as well as domestically, adding: "Juventus have added good players to deal with the Champions League.

"It is important to return to the international arena after winning the Italian title. It allows you to grow in self-awareness and strength. Antonio Conte's ban will not be a problem."

In between his two spells in Turin, Lippi had a short spell with Inter, who he has also praised for the way they are playing under Andrea Stramaccioni.

He said: "Inter have won four away games, scoring ten and conceding zero. They have many good players who can produce something and win a game at any time."

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