Friday, 15 February 2008

Serie A Week 23: Weekend Preview

Juventus are ready to all but end Roma's Scudetto ambitions when the two sides meet in this weekend's top Serie A showdown.

Second-placed Roma travel to Turin's Stadio Olimpico on Saturday evening knowing a slip could see Inter extend their eight-point cushion at the top of the standings.

And Juve, in third but four points behind Roma, could do Inter a big favour.

"If we beat Roma we would have a chance to battle for second spot," said Juve's Roman-born coach Claudio Ranieri. "It's going to be a spectacular and a difficult game."

Luciano Spalletti's Roma will be hoping captain Francesco Totti can end his goalscoring drought this weekend.

Totti is Roma's top scorer with 10 goals this campaign, but has failed to find the target in three games since returning from injury.

The 31-year-old will have an added motivation to beat Bianconeri goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon as he has never scored at Juventus in the league.

By the time Roma and Juventus kick off they will know the result of Inter's home clash against Livorno, who held Milan to a midweek draw.

But the focus of the leaders' coach Roberto Mancini will be on Tuesday's Champions League encounter against Liverpool at Anfield.

With his team cruising unbeaten in Italy's top flight, Mancini is set to rest some players against the Serie A strugglers, with one eye on their European trip.

AC Milan also travel to struggling Parma on Saturday but still lie outside the top four.

They had to come from behind to draw 1-1 at home to Livorno on Wednesday, a result that leaves the Rossoneri a point behind Fiorentina in the race for the last Champions League qualifying spot.

On Wednesday Milan travel to Arsenal in this year's competition, though Cesare Prandelli's side had European distractions to deal with as they beat Rosenborg 1-0 in Norway in the first leg of the UEFA Cup last 32.

The Viola will follow the home clash against Catania on Sunday with the return leg of the of the UEFA Cup next Thursday evening.

Genoa entertain neighbours Sampdoria in the Derby della Lanterna. Gian Piero Gasperini's men will have added motivation for the game, as a win would see them overtake seventh-place Samp in the standings.

Sixth-place Udinese will be eager to bounce back from a four-game winless streak when they take on Reggina at Stadio Oreste Granillo.

Palermo coach Francesco Guidolin will be under pressure against bottom-side Cagliari. Their 3-1 defeat at Torino last weekend marked the Sicilians' fourth loss in five league games, dropping them to 10th.

Lazio will be desperate for home comfort when they take on in-form Atalanta. Having failed to win on the road since October, Delio Rossi's men must make their most of their encounters at the Stadio Olimpico if they wish to climb from their 13th position in the standings.

Empoli lie just one point from safety after last week's win over Lazio, but take a poor away record to Napoli.

Elsewhere, Torino will have to do without coach Walter Novellino when they travel to Siena this weekend. Novellino was handed a two-match touchline ban after insulting the referee during Sunday's 3-1 win against Palermo.

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