Friday, 30 November 2007

Serie A Week 14: Weekend Preview

AC Milan go into Saturday's mouth-watering home encounter against Juventus in buoyant mood having earned qualification to the Champions League last 16 in midweek.

The Rossoneri's 1-1 draw at Benfica was sufficient to see them through to the next round of Europe's elite club competition.

The European champions will now be focusing on their domestic campaign as they go into this weekend's encounter desperately looking for their first home Serie A win of the season.

Their failure to come out triumphant at home has seen the Rossoneri lose touch with their Scudetto contenders - trailing 11 points behind leaders Inter.

A triumph by Milan would be a blessing for city rivals Inter as they go into Sunday's clash at fifth-placed Fiorentina looking to increase their three-point advantage over Claudio Ranieri's Juve and Roma.

The Nerazzurri, who joined Milan and Roma in the last 16 of the Champions League after an emphatic 3-0 triumph against Fenerbahce, will be determined to maintain their unbeaten run in Serie A at the Stadio Artemio Franchi.

Viola coach Cesare Prandelli returned to work on Friday and will be on the bench for Sunday’s match after the tactician had been on compassionate leave following the tragic death of wife Manuela earlier this week.

He had pulled out of the trip to Reggina last weekend after hearing that her condition was deteriorating and the entire Fiorentina squad attended the funeral on Wednesday. A minute’s silence will be held before kick-off in remembrance.

Assistant manager Gabriele Pin was in charge of the 0-0 draw at Reggina and Thursday’s UEFA Cup 1-1 draw away to AEK Athens, but Prandelli will be on the bench for Fiorentina’s stiffest test yet on their title credentials.

Luciano Spalletti's Roma will face a challenge at the Stadio Olimpico when they take on in-form Udinese, who have shown little sign of weakness in recent times.

The Bianconeri, Spalletti's former club, have won their last two games and are level on 25 points with Juve and Roma in fourth place.

The Eternal City giants will be without captain Francesco Totti but will have a sturdy replacement in Mirko Vucinic, who struck twice in his team's 4-1 triumph over Dynamo Kiev on Tuesday.

Struggling Lazio will be keen to bounce back from their 2-1 defeat against Olympiakos in the Champions League when they travel to bottom-of-the-table Siena.

Wednesday's slip has complicated the Romans' hopes of advancing to the next round, but exiting the European competition may help improve their poor Serie A form so far this season. The Biancocelesti sit just three points above the relegation zone.

Atalanta and Napoli are both playing above expectations and flirting with the European places near the top of Serie A at the moment. However, one of them could have their ambitions heavily dented when they meet in Bergamo.

Two mid-table giants face each other on Sunday night as Genoa make the journey to Turin to face Torino. Both sides, who have struggled in recent games, are desperately hoping for maximum points.

Bottom-of-the-table Cagliari must brace themselves for a battle when they take on in-form Livorno, who have taken full points in their last two encounters since Giancarlo Camolese was appointed as coach.

Empoli will be hoping the arrival of coach Alberto Malesani will inspire them to return to winning ways at struggling Parma.

Reggina travel to Sampdoria on Saturday looking for their first win on the road this season. A defeat for the Amaranto, who were coached by Samp's Walter Mazzarri last season, could see them drop into the relegation zone.

Eighth-placed Palermo will be looking to spark their season into life when they travel to Catania.

The Rossonero welcome back coach Francesco Guidolin for a fourth spell in place of Stefano Colantuono, who was sacked after his team's humiliating 5-0 defeat to Juventus last weekend.

Meanwhile, the visiting Palermo fans have been forbidden from travelling to Catania's Stadio Angelo Massimino after policeman Filippo Raciti was killed during scuffles between the fans and police in this fixture on February 2, 2007.

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