Derby bells also be­gin to peal in Mi­lan as Serie A ti­tle race gets su­per hot

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FOOTBALL -

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

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