Milan and Udinese take aim at Serie A top spot
WITH Juventus not playing until Monday night, and only then in a tricky away fixture against Roma, AC Milan and Udinese will have an eye on top spot this weekend.
The two chasers trail Juve by two points and both have the chance to take over the Serie A lead if they win their weekend games.
Milan have the trickier appointment as they travel to lowly Bologna while Udinese host goal-shy Chievo.
Bologna may have had a poor start to the season, already changed coaches and are down in 17th place, one above the relegation zone, but they are only one win off seventh place.
And Milan goalkeeper Marco Amelia says the champions cannot afford to take their opponents lightly.
“It’s a game we need to interpret well because that’s the only way to allow the individual technical quality of our great players to shine through, which is what makes the difference,” he said. “There are no more simple games in Serie A but our strength is concentrating on the value of individuals and when we do that no-one can handle us.”
Milan have been ruthless against so- called minnows recently, thumping both Catania and Chievo 4- 0 while Parma were put to the sword before that in a 4-1 rout.
However, they did show signs of weakness in their 2-2 draw at Viktoria Plzen in midweek, albeit with several first team stars rested, when they led 2-0 with a minute left but still succumbed twice in the dying moments.
Yet at home they have by far the best attack, and are the only side to average more than two goals a game with 29 in 13 matches so far.
Udinese’s positive start has been based on quite the opposite, a solid backline and they have the best defence having conceded less than a goal every other game.
They’re also up against the team with the second worst attack in the league.
It’s unlikely to be a game of many goals as between them Udinese and Chievo’s matches have involved amongst the least number of total goals in the league. Just 22 goals have been scored in Udinese’s 13 games and 26 for Chievo which compared to the 43 in Milan’s games shows the kind of tight affairs they have been involved in.
Udinese may have been impressive so far, especially in their 1-0 win at Inter Milan last weekend, but inside the club they are still insisting that avoiding relegation is their only aim.
“As for our objective it’s still amassing 40 points and maybe then we might start fighting for something a little more ambitious,” said emblematic captain Antonio Di Natale, the second top scorer in Serie A – he has nine of Udinese’s 16 goals.
For Di Natale, Juventus are still the favourites, not least because they are not involved in Europe.
“I see Juve as having an advantage over Milan as they can work during the week without having to think about (Europe) and that’s a noteworthy advantage,” he added.
In other games fourth placed Lazio travel to rock bottom Lecce hoping to keep pace with the top sides, although they may have to do without top scorer Miroslav Klose, who’s struggling with an ankle injury. At least Tommaso Rocchi has proved an able substitute having notched a brace on Monday in the 3-0 win over Novara.
Struggling Inter host Fiorentina once again looking to kick- start a season which has stalled repeatedly.
They also play Genoa next Tuesday in their game in hand knowing that although they are down in 16th position now, wins in these next two games would ensure they break into the top half. – SapaAFP
NICE AND STEADY: AC Milan goalkeeper Marco Amelia is cautious ahead of the match against Bologna.