Friday, 28 March 2008

Serie A Week 31: Weekend Preview

Inter are growing tired of the persistent speculation coach Roberto Mancini will leave the club at the end of the season.

Inter, beaten by Juventus last weekend, are just four points clear of Roma ahead of Saturday night's trip to Rome to take on Lazio and the distraction over Mancini's future is not helping anyone at the club focus on winning a third straight Scudetto.

Club President Massimo Moratti is fed up with the ongoing rumours about Mancini. "Despite what is said by the media, there's nothing," he insisted.

"All the things being said have to be denied but we no longer have the patience to do so."

If Moratti is looking for someone to blame, though, he should look no further than his coach for it was Mancini himself who announced after Inter's UEFA Champions League elimination at the hands of Liverpool his intention to quit at the end of the campaign.

Mancini then backtracked, with both he and Moratti saying he would still be in charge next season, but rumours have lingered.

Roma, who recently lost to city rivals Lazio 3-2, travel to Sardinia where they will take on a Cagliari side fighting for survival despite having successfully appealed against a three-point deduction.

The Giallorossi received a boost ahead of Saturday's early kick-off with the news captain Francesco Totti is fit to play. Totti, who returned to training on Friday, has recovered from a knee injury and has been given the all-clear.

The news is a relief for coach Luciano Spalletti, who will be without pivotal trio Simone Perrotta, Daniele De Rossi and Mirko Vucinic due to suspension.

On Sunday, third-placed Juventus are in a buoyant mood ahead of their clash with Parma after last weekend's triumph over Inter increased their lead on fourth-placed Fiorentina to five points.

As for the Viola, they make the journey to the Stadio Friuli hoping for a win against Udinese to secure the last Champions League qualifying spot. The Florence-based outfit currently have a four-point advantage over AC Milan.

With Ronaldo, Filippo Inzaghi and Ricardo Kaka unavailable through injury, Rossoneri coach Carlo Ancelotti will be relying on in-form Alexandre Pato to come up with the goods when his team entertain Atalanta at the San Siro.

Pato, who scored the winner at Torino on Sunday, was the hero for Brazil after scoring the only goal in the friendly win over Sweden on his international debut in midweek.

A slip by Milan or Udinese would only benefit seventh-place Sampdoria provided the Blucerchiati are able to come out triumphant against bottom side Empoli.

Samp trail Udinese, who hold the last UEFA Cup qualifying spot, by a point.

Struggling Palermo will be hoping the return of Stefano Colantuono following the dismissal of coach Francesco Guidolin will inspire the Sicilian giants to victory when they travel to the mainland to meet Napoli on Sunday evening.

Colantuono has been handed back the reins of the Rossaneri outfit four months after being sacked. Palermo's poor recent run has dropped them to 12th in the standings.

In-form Genoa will be eager to beat relegation-threatened Reggina at home as they look to take a step closer to defending their Serie A status.

Livorno take on Siena in a Tuscan derby knowing a slip-up could land them in the relegation zone and Torino meet Catania in Sicily desperate to clinch their second win on the road this campaign.

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