Friday, 9 November 2007

Serie A Week 12: Weekend Preview

Fiorentina were a club in crisis just one season ago following their 15-point deduction in the wake of the Calciopoli scandal that rocked Serie A.

One year on, however, and La Viola are heading into this Sunday's game against fifth-placed Udinese with a chance to go top.

Cesare Prandelli's troops - who remain unbeaten in all competitions following Thursday's 6-1 thrashing of Elfsborg in the UEFA Cup - sit just two points behind leaders Inter after 11 games, but the coach is refusing to get carried away by his side's lofty status.

"The fact that we are second in the standings doesn't change anything for us," said Prandelli. "If anything, it makes us more aware that we have to continue to work hard and grow game by game."

Udinese themselves have had a good start to the season and will be looking to continue that form in Florence.

The champions, Inter are full of confidence ahead of their meeting with Lazio following an impressive 4-2 Champions League triumph against CSKA Moscow in midweek.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Esteban Cambiasso bagged two goals apiece at the San Siro to cancel out CSKA's shock two-goal lead.

"I am satisfied with my team's reaction," said Inter coach Roberto Mancini, who comes face to face with his former club. "It was a difficult encounter but we got the victory we wanted."

Mancini will be hoping his team can overcome the absence of injured midfield trio Luis Figo, Patrick Vieira and Dejan Stankovic to beat his former club on Sunday afternoon.

The Biancocelesti have had an awful start to their Serie A campaign and lie just one point above the relegation zone. But the capital side will be boosted by their 2-1 Champions League win over Werder Bremen in midweek.

Their great city rivals, Roma, are in fine fettle ahead of their game against Cagliari at the Stadio Olimpico on Sunday evening.

Luciano Spalletti's side are without captain Francisco Totti, midfielders Rodrigo Taddei and Alberto Aquilani and defender Christian Panucci, but sit third in Serie A and second in Champions League Group F after a battling 2-2 draw at Sporting Lisbon on Wednesday.

Despite losing a two-goal lead at Empoli last weekend, Roma remain just three points off the top.

Claudio Ranieri will take his fourth-placed Juventus side back to former club Parma. Ranieri saved Parma from relegation last season but left to take the Juve job at the start of this season and he's certainly started well.

The Bianconeri are just four off the pace, but a win at the Stadio Tardini will be crucial to keep up their challenge. However, they will be without suspended midfielder Pavel Nedved for the away trip.

Atalanta are sixth and will be looking to continue their strong start to the campaign when they host an AC Milan team still languishing down in mid-table. Despite their poor Serie A form, the European champions have been in top form in Europe's premier club competition. Their latest an impressive 3-0 win at Shakhtar Donetsk on Tuesday night.

Seventh-placed Napoli have enjoyed a fine start to life back in Serie A but face a tough trip to Sicily to take on Palermo in what promises to be an entertaining and fiery encounter at the Stadio Renzo Barbera on Saturday night.

Stefano Colantuono's side have struggled in recent games, drawing their last five games and are in search of their first win since Week 5's 2-1 win over Milan.

Saturday's earlier game sees a rejuvenated Sampdoria looking for their second consecutive win as they face Empoli at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris. Samp will be confident after hammering Cagliari 3-0 in Sardinia following their 5-0 defeat against Milan a few days earlier.

Elsewhere on Sunday, struggling Tuscan duo Siena and Livorno meet in a relegation six-pointer, over-achieving Catania visit under-achieving Torino and mid-table Genoa travel to Reggio Calabria to take on winless and bottom club Reggina.

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