Friday, 26 October 2007

Serie A Week 9: Weekend Preview

Inter are flying high at the top of Serie A but city rivals AC Milan are confident they can pull themselves back into the hunt for the Scudetto after claiming a morale-boosting win over Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League.

Wednesday's 4-1 triumph over the Ukrainians brought the feel-good factor back to the San Siro, where Milan have yet to win in the league this season. Ten points behind Inter heading into Sunday's game against Roma, some of the confidence has been restored in the Rossoneri camp.

"It was a delicate time, but I know this team too well and I knew they were going to react," said coach Carlo Ancelotti, who steered Milan to the Champions League title last season. "The reaction took place and now we have to do things better."

Roma, who are in fourth place and five points off the top, got some good news ahead of the game. Tests on Francesco Totti's ankle injury showed no fracture, and the Giallorossi captain is expected to play at the San Siro. Totti had to leave Roma's game against Sporting Lisbon with the injury but the capital side won the game 2-1.

Both sides have fallen off the pace recently and will be eager to get all three points against one of their rivals and keep pace with the early leaders. However, a quick glance at either teams’ current form shows that they will need to step up a gear to secure a win.

Juventus, three points behind Inter, face an interesting test when they travel to the Stadio San Paolo to face fellow new boys Napoli on Saturday night.

The journey will be difficult with midfielder Pavel Nedved out due to a two-game suspension. Napoli themselves have had a good start to the season and are eighth in the table following last week's 4-4 draw at Roma.

Saturday's first game sees Walter Novellino's Torino host Cagliari at the Stadio Olimpico. Both sides are in need of a win as they are both just two points off the relegation zone.

Inter should be in a positive frame of mind after winning their Champions League game at CSKA Moscow, 2-1. But they face a stern test of their title credentials with a game at Palermo, who are eight points behind them in fifth place.

Palermo have hit something of a slump since upsetting Milan in Week 5 and will look to rejuvenate their season by springing a surprise on Milanese opposition once more.

Empoli will be hoping to build on their shock 1-0 win over Milan last week when they host Atalanta.

Third-placed Fiorentina travel on Sunday night to take on Genoa, who are in an impressive sixth position following their promotion from Serie B.

La Viola, who are still unbeaten in all competitions this season, collected an impressive 1-1 draw at Villarreal in the opening UEFA Cup group game on Thursday, but were just minutes away from taking all three points in Spain.

Lazio look to get back on the winning track after slipping to a 2-1 defeat at Werder Bremen in the Champions League when they host Udinese in Rome. The Biancocelesti, who have struggled all season with injuries, need to move up the table as they lie in 13th position.

In Sunday's other games, strugglers Parma host bottom-of-the-table Livorno, mid-table Sampdoria visit Catania and Reggina travel to Tuscany to face Siena in a battle of two of the relegation contenders this season.

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