Inter winger Ivan Perisic says no side should be considered favourites for the Serie A title this season.
Roberto Mancini's side begin 2016 as the league leaders but both Napoli and Fiorentina sit just a point behind, while champions Juventus and Roma are three and four points further adrift.
While he concedes Juve's dominance in recent years and the togetherness of their squad gives them a slight edge, Perisic insists there are no favourites for the trophy at present and claims he is "optimistic" about his own side's chances.
"We have to forget the defeat against Lazio and get the three points against Empoli [on Wednesday]. We're first in the standings and we want to stay there," he told Corriere dello Sport.
"We're first and it's nice to be up there, but I think we need to do better.
"I'm optimistic by nature. I believe in myself and the fact that we will close the gap to the top three and the Scudetto.
"It won't be easy, because the competition is so great: Juve have returned to the level of the last four years, Napoli and Fiorentina play some great football, the best in the last few championships, and Roma have gone through a tough time to come back to their levels of October and November.
"Juventus are strong, they've won seven straight matches and they have a squad which knows each other well. Compared to other sides they have an advantage.
"But there's no favourite. I hope Inter win. Getting in the top three is critical."