Saturday, 6 December 2008

Milito raring to take Sampdoria scalp

Having returned to Serie A little over a year ago after 12 seasons in exile, Genoa are making their mark among the elite and city rivals Sampdoria will not sleep peacefully knowing they must stop the irrepressible Diego Milito in the Derby della Lanterna.

Diego Milito & Antonio CassanoIndeed, Italy's leading scorer has already warned the Blucerchiati: "I'd love to score the winning goal."

Genoa have more points and greater confidence than their hosts, even if they lost their perfect home record last weekend when they were held 1-1 at home by Bologna.

Gian Piero Gasperini's side have already recorded memorable victories against AC Milan and Roma this term and they want another against Sampdoria, who possess six points fewer than their neighbours who head into the game on the back of a 1-0 loss at Cagliari and a 3-0 midweek defeat against Standard Liege in the UEFA Cup.

Unfortunately for Il Grifone, form often counts for nothing in derby matches.

"The derby is a game on its own," explained Samp coach Walter Mazzarri. "We will need a great performance."

His team will be keen to reassert their superiority as the city's leading club of recent years, even if they have collected only one Scudetto, in 1991. Italy's oldest outfit, Genoa, have won the league nine times in comparison, although their last triumph dates back to 1924.

Sunday night's fixture also features a fascinating duel between Sampdoria's Antonio Cassano and 29-year-old fellow forward Milito.

"He's a great player," Milito said of his rival. "But we're ready for this match and we definitely want to win."

The former Real Zaragoza player has struck eleven goals in 13 league games since returning to Genoa after three seasons in Spain, and the continent's leading teams have taken note.

"They can come up with €40m or €50m but I will not let him go," said club President Enrico Preziosi. "Milito is priceless."

Nicknamed 'Il Principe' (The Prince), the Argentinian has netted against powerhouses Milan, Roma – twice – and Juventus during his debut campaign in Serie A.

"I don't think there's another striker like him in Italy," said Gasperini. "Diego is a phenomenon and not only in front of goal – he helps the team a lot with his way of playing.

"He's the kind of player you would never do without once you've tried him."

Source: UEFA

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