Derby bells also begin to peal in Milan as Serie A title race gets super hot
THE MILAN derby between leaders Inter and rivals AC Milan, and a Juventus-Roma clash, promise an intense weekend at the top of Serie A.
Milan can change the face of the title race with a victory late tomorrow as it would draw them within three points of Inter, who are six points clear at the top little more than halfway through their campaign. Milan, who also have a game in hand, have displayed better form than Inter recently, in the form of three straight wins, with a 12-2 goal difference, after a slip-up against Palermo in mid-December.
Jose Mourinho’s title holders Inter eked out narrow wins against three underdogs before being held to a 2-2 draw at tough newcomers Bari last weekend.
“Milan are playing very well,” Inter president Massimo Moratti said. “Their players are in good form and I think it will be a great game. No doubt about it.”
Milan defender Thiago Silva said he was uncertain wether the derby was crucial for the season.
“Tomorrow night we must give everything,” the young Brazilian said. “Inter play well. (Argentine striker Diego) Milito is very strong, we must be careful. In August, we lost 4-0 and I just have not been able to forget that evening.”
Although Ronaldinho scored a hat-trick last weekend and Marco Borriello was also on target as Milan hammered Siena 4-0, coach Leonardo is still without Brazil striker Pato and he could also miss defensive mainstay Alessandro Nesta, while Gianluca Zambrotta and Clarence Seedorf are injured.
Inter striker Samuel Eto’o is at the African Cup of Nations with Cameroon, but troubles are mostly in midfield, with Ghana’s Sulley Muntari, Serb Dejan Stankovic and Brazil’s Thiago Motta injured.
Juventus are the worst off when it comes to injuries, with big guns Vincenzo Iaquinta, Mauro Camoranesi and David Trezeguet among a large number of absentees. But Mali’s Mohamed Sissoko is back from Africa for the game today. Juve have lost four of their last five league matches and slumped to fifth place, while Roma are unbeaten since late October and moved ahead of Juve last weekend into third place. Newcomer Luca Toni, who got a brace on the weekend, could play next to recovering captain Francesco Totti.
Fourth-placed Napoli visit lowly Livor no, while Paler mo and Fiorentina face off with a European berth in their sights.
Lowly Catania and Parma open the weekend today, bottom side Siena and Cagliari play tomorrow when Bologna host Bari and Genoa entertain Atalanta.
Relegation could become a serious issue for Lazio and Udinese when they take on Chievo and Sampdoria, respectively. – Sapa-dpa