Friday, 7 March 2008

Serie A Week 27: Weekend Preview

Inter President Massimo Moratti knows the club's centenary celebrations this weekend could be a sombre affair as they prepare to face Reggina on Saturday.

The Nerazzurri lost for the first time in Serie A this season at Napoli last week with second-placed Roma taking advantage by closing the gap to just six points with 12 games remaining.

Not only are the Nerazzurri looking over their shoulders at the Romans, they are also heading into Tuesday's encounter against Liverpool with a 2-0 deficit after the first leg of the last-16 UEFA Champions League tie.

Moratti is stunned at the turn of events in the lead-up to the club's milestone.

He said: "I would have never imagined that we would lose our first league game of the season just before our celebrations, nor that we would face such a perilous position in the Champions League days later.

"The best present we could give would be to beat Liverpool. I have great confidence in the players that coach Roberto Mancini will choose, because they have the quality to play a game showing the heroic character that we will need to progress.

"As for the battle for the Scudetto, I believe that the six-point gap is not a bad margin. Roma play well, like us, hence they are a feared rival but I am calm."

Roma clinched their passage to the Champions League quarter-finals for the second successive year on Wednesday. Luciano Spalletti's men beat Real Madrid 2-1 at the Santiago Bernabeu to oust the nine-time European champions.

They can now concentrate on gaining three points in the Derby del Sole at Napoli on Sunday afternoon hoping that Inter slip up again at the San Siro.

Third-placed Juventus will be desperate to return to winning ways when they travel to the Stadio Marassi to meet Genoa on Sunday night.

Coach Claudio Ranieri is under pressure with his team having managed just one point in the last three games.

A slip by Juve could see in-form Fiorentina leapfrog the Bianconeri in the standings, after beating them last weekend, provided the Viola triumph at mid-table Siena.

The Tuscan giants, who beat Everton 2-0 in the first leg of of the UEFA Cup last 16 on Thursday, trail just one point behind Juve having won their last two Serie A games.

AC Milan will be looking to bounce back from their Champions League exit at the hands of Arsenal when they take on Empoli.

The Rossoneri are desperate to reduce their four-point gap from the Champions League places and return to the competition next season.

Palermo will be hoping they call upon top scorer Amauri for the clash against Udinese at La Favorita on Saturday evening. He is struggling with a muscular injury.

Sampdoria make the journey to Parma having to overcome the absence of striker Antonio Cassano, who has been handed a five-match ban after last weekend's shirt-throwing incident.

Torino meet Atalanta in Bergamo eager to extend their seven-game unbeaten run in Serie A.

Lazio entertain Livorno, having won their last three games at the Stadio Olimpico. However they have only taken one point in their last three games.

Bottom side Cagliari will be eager to build on last weekend 2-1 win against Genoa when they face Catania in Sicily.

The Rossoblu have a three-point deduction to contend with, after taking unauthorised legal action against a former player.

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