Friday, 23 November 2007

Serie A Week 13: Weekend Preview

Serie A is back this weekend for the first time since the police shooting of a Lazio fan sparked widespread violence and the cancellation of three games two weeks ago.

While it was an international break last week, fixtures in the top flight resume and Serie A's ultras have organised a silent protest at games around the country.

Lazio midfielder Roberto Baronio admits matters on the pitch will take a back seat when they meet Parma at the Stadio Olimpico. The Biancoceleste fans are planning their own protest by entering into the stadium 20 minutes after kick-off.

Baronio confirmed the events remain fresh in the mind of the players and they are keen to pay their own tribute to Sandri. "Some of us knew Gabriele well and we have all been hit hard by what happened," he said.

"In the dressing room we have hung his photos and shown we will not forget him. We want to dedicate the game with Parma to him and his family as a testimony of our pain and our affection."

On the pitch, both of these giants need three crucial points as they are in an early relegation battle, and Lazio's Delio Rossi will be under further pressure if his side don't pick up maximum points.

Leaders Inter host a confident Atalanta side at the San Siro on Saturday with coach Roberto Mancini facing several injury problems.

Esteban Cambiasso and Cristian Chivu both picked up injuries on international duty while Dejan Stankovic and Marco Materazzi are short of match fitness.

Inter president Massimo Moratti has said the club will not be be strengthening the squad during the January transfer window despite the injury list. "We're not looking at the transfer market because we don't any very serious long-term injury problems," Moratti said.

"The most serious ones should be resolved within a month - the transfer market starts in January and we should be okay by then."

Atalanta, who have been the surprise package of the season so far, were hit hard by the events of November 11 and it’s up to the Orobici players to restore pride.

Genoa host Roma in Saturday's other fixture with Giallorossi captain Francesco Totti considered doubtful.

Totti, who reiterated during the week that he will not return for the national team despite qualification for Euro 2008, has recovered from an ankle injury but his return has been further hampered by bronchitis.

The newly-promoted side started brightly but have now slipped down to 12th place.

AC Milan visit Cagliari, who reappointed former boss Nedo Sonetti last week, with Ronaldo pressing his claims for inclusion. The European champions are struggling in Serie A and their form must start improving with the game in Sardinia.

Second-placed Fiorentina travel to struggling Reggina without injured Romanian striker Adrian Mutu. But the Southern side will be hoping to continue their resurgence under new boss Renzo Ulivieri. La Viola suffered their first defeat of the season on the last matchday, losing at home to Udinese.

Juventus will be hoping to make up for their disappointing draw with Parma when they welcome Palermo to Turin on Sunday evening. The Bianconeri are currently three points behind leaders Inter after an impressive start to the season, although they have only won two of their last five matches.

In other matches Napoli host Catania in a mid-table clash, Mario Beretta makes his Siena comeback at fifth-placed Udinese, bottom of the table Empoli host Torino and two form sides in recent matches meet in Tuscany as Sampdoria travel to Livorno.

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