Maldini confident Milan can fight Napoli for Scudetto

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Milan technical director Paolo Maldini is still confident his side can mount a challenge for the Serie A title after cutting Napoli's lead at the summit.

A last-gasp own goal from Nikola Milenkovic handed Milan a 2-1 victory against Fiorentina at San Siro on Sunday in the final game before the World Cup, reducing Napoli's advantage to eight points.

While that tally is still significant, victory against La Viola was a crucial one as a draw would have seen the deficit in double figures.

With 11 consecutive wins, dethroning an in-form Napoli side when the season resumes in January is a stern test but Maldini feels the race is far from over.

"Absolutely, we believe in it. Last year in the derby we were seven points from Inter, then we won," he told DAZN.

"It is not easy to keep this pace until the end, we have to grow. Maybe at this moment we are a little empty of energy.

"The standings speak for themselves; we have two points fewer than last year. Napoli have done incredible things.

"We are in line with last year. For the rest, nothing can be said. We are through in the Champions League with players still to recover.

"We must keep the spirit and enthusiasm that made us win last year."

Maldini also continued to back Charles De Ketelaere, who is yet to impress with Milan after his arrival from Club Brugge.

"He's suffering. It's a different environment with different pressures and demands. It is the difficulty of having so many emotions," he added.

"We have a five-year contract with Charles, not five months. We are waiting for it. Judgements must be partial. Time will tell if he can fit in well."