Friday, 2 November 2007

Serie A Week 11: Weekend Preview

Confidence is soaring in the Roma camp as they head into this weekend's clash at third-bottom Empoli on the back of a win in the Eternal City derby against Lazio.

The Giallorossi, who edged AC Milan last Sunday with a Mirko Vucinic goal, followed that up with a 3-2 victory to remain just three points behind leaders Inter and second in the standings.

With Juventus hosting Inter on Sunday evening, Roma know they could close the gap. "The goals made the difference," said coach Luciano Spalletti. "The game has been a balanced one and Lazio did make life difficult for us. Perhaps the superior quality of my players has contributed to the victory in this game."

Tommaso Rocchi fired Lazio into an early lead but the Giallorossi hit back courtesy of Vucinic, who was playing in place of the injured captain Francesco Totti. Alessandro Mancini then put Roma 2-1 up before half-time and Simone Perrotta struck on 66 minutes for a two-goal cushion. Cristian Ledesma finished the scoring with a free-kick 21 minutes from the end but Roma held on.

"The important thing was to win this game," said Totti, who had to watch the game from the stands due to an ankle injury. "The team has played a great game. I don't know when I will return to play," he added.

The Derby d’Italia returns as Juventus and Inter lock horns in the most mouth-watering clash of the season so far at the Stadio Olimpico in Turin.

Inter will be in upbeat mood when they travel to face Juve after their 4-1 triumph over Genoa.

"For Roma it's positive that they are three points behind us after 10 games, but each game hides particular challenges," said Inter coach Roberto Mancini. "We are happy to be first in the standings and that's not to say that we will lose our next difficult games. Against Juventus we will do our best."

Juve coach Claudio Ranieri was all smiles after his players bounced back from a setback at Napoli to beat Empoli thanks to France international striker David Trezeguet's hat-trick.

"The first half was difficult but then Trezeguet has been marvellous in scoring a hat-trick," Ranieri said. "Now the time has come to think about our next game against Inter."

AC Milan go into their game at the San Siro against Torino on Saturday night still without a home win in Serie A this campaign.

The European champions trounced Sampdoria 5-0 in Genoa on Wednesday with Alberto Gilardino scoring twice.

"Things have gone well for us in this game," he said. "The entire team played great football, especially in the second half. Once we scored the first goal, the game changed completely. I think when we are able to take the lead then we can play with more calmness and control the situation.

"Now we have another game in three days' time and we hope that on Saturday at the San Siro, we are finally able to end our negative run and give our fans a home triumph in the league."

In Saturday's other game, Lazio, desperately in need of a win to erode the memories of derby defeat, host Fiorentina looking to leave their current 14th position in the standings.

Cesare Prandelli's visitors are unbeaten in 19 games in all competitions and have richly deserved fourth spot.

On Sunday, struggling Sampdoria travel to Sardinia to take on Cagliari. The Blucerchiati fans have been protesting against the team’s performances and results this season, and the Genovesi cannot afford to lose - especially after Wednesday's home thumping at the hands of Milan.

High-flying Catania host even higher-flying Atalanta in Sicily. Both sides are doing incredibly well and will be eager to add some more points at the Stadio Massimino to their, so far, perfect start to the campaign.

Genoa are at home against ninth-placed Palermo with both teams desperately needing to pick up maximum points after a poor run of results.

Napoli will be hoping to take advantage of Reggina’s current crisis when they welcome the Reggio Calabrian outfit to Naples for a southern derby. While the Azzurri have enjoyed a memorable start to life back in the top flight, their weekend opponents are currently rock bottom and have just replaced coach Massimo Ficcadenti with veteran Renzo Ulivieri.

Second-bottom Livorno, who picked up their first win of the season against Reggina in midweek, are at home to fifth-placed Udinese. The Friuli club are unbeaten in five matches and will be confident on extending that run in Tuscany.

Siena, who are just one place above the relegation zone, are away to 15th-placed Parma. The Gialloblu will be looking to continue their good week that saw them beat Livorno last weekend, swiftly followed up by an impressive draw against Palermo on Wednesday.

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