Friday, 26 September 2008

Serie A - Week 5: Weekend Preview

AC Milan's title aspirations will be put to the test on Sunday night when they meet pre-season favourites and city rivals Inter at the San Siro.

Three wins in four games have put unbeaten Inter at the top of Serie A, a position many people predict Jose Mourinho's side will occupy for the duration of the championship.

Milan, whose main aim this year is the Scudetto after failing to qualify for the UEFA Champions League, have endured a difficult start to the campaign.

The Rossoneri lost their opening two games but a convincing 4-1 victory over Lazio last weekend and a 2-1 midweek triumph at Reggina has got them back on track.

"We suffered but we won and that is what we need at this time," said AC Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti, whose team are four points behind Inter.

"We needed a victory to climb up in the standings and things have gone our way.

"With regards to the game against Inter, we have played many in the past and on many occasions we have come out with a smile.

"I am not worried about the derby. In a week we have taken many steps forward."

Inter go into the Derby della Madonnina on the back of a midweek triumph against Lecce, their third straight league victory.

"We want to prove our strength on Sunday," said Argentina striker Julio Cruz, whose goal handed the Nerazzurri three points. "The derby is a special game and we are really eager to be in good form.

"We are first in the standings and I believe it will be an exciting encounter."

Juventus, who travel to Genoa to meet Sampdoria in Saturday's early game, are hoping to return to the top of the standings this weekend and will therefore be rooting for AC Milan.

The Bianconeri's 1-1 draw with Catania allowed Inter to go top in the table.

A stalemate at the San Siro would benefit Lazio and Atalanta, who trail one point behind the Nerazzurri after both clubs bounced back from their first defeats of the campaign with victories in midweek.

The Biancoceleste travel to Turin to meet Torino while Atalanta will be looking to rub salt into Roma's wounds at the Stadio Olimpico.

Roma lost 3-1 at Genoa on Wednesday to drop to 14th in the standings, and under-pressure coach Luciano Spalletti will be desperate for his side to collect their second win of the campaign against the Bergamaschi.

Fiorentina, another of the sides struggling at the start of the season, host Genoa in Saturda's evening game looking to bounce back from their disappointing 3-0 defeat at Lazio.

Bologna will seek their first home success when they host unbeaten Napoli at the Stadio Renato Dall Ara, while bottom side Cagliari travel to Lecce seeking their first win of the season.

Udinese will try to remain unbeaten at home when they face Siena, and Sicilian outfits Catania and Palermo go into their respective games this weekend determined to keep their 100 per cent records at home.

Catania welcome Chievo to the island while the Rosaneri host winless Reggina.

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