Saturday, 31 January 2009

Serie A - Week 22: Weekend Preview

Inter striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic believes his team are back on track to clinch their fourth successive Serie A title having regained the impressive form they appeared to have lost at the beginning of the year.

The Nerazzurri, who remain unbeaten at the San Siro in the league this season, go into Sunday's encounter against Torino with a six-point lead over nearest title contenders Juventus.

With just one point collected in their opening two games of 2009, Inter fans were concerned.

However, Wednesday's 2-0 victory at Catania which followed their 1-0 triumph against Sampdoria has seen the Nerazzurri regain their touch.

"We have shown strength, unity and focus," said Ibrahimovic, who struck his team's second at Catania. "You win titles like this.

"We got three important points," admitted Ibrahimovic, whose team played for almost an hour with 10 men after Ghanaian midfielder Sulley Muntari was sent off. "It's not easy to play with 10 men for so long and without our coach on the bench."

Juve will be desperate to bounce back from their first defeat since November when they host Cagliari on Saturday night, knowing that they cannot afford any further slips if they are to keep up with Inter.

The Turin giants will be boosted by the return of captain Alessandro del Piero, who missed the midweek encounter through injury.

AC Milan, who conceded a late equaliser against Genoa in their last game, are two points behind Juve and make the journey to the Italian capital to meet strugglers Lazio in Sunday's evening game.

Red-hot Roma meet rock-bottom Reggina at the Stadio Oreste Granillo eager to climb to fourth this weekend.

The Giallorossi trail one point behind Genoa, who hold the last Champions League qualifying spot.

However, Genoa will fancy their chances against Palermo as the Grifone remain unbeaten at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris this season.

Having claimed their first win of the year against Napoli on Wednesday, Fiorentina will be looking to pick up where they left off when they make the trip to Bologna.

Udinese coach Pasquale Marino hopes their midweek triumph over Juve is the turning point for his under-achievers. The north-east outfit celebrated their first triumph since October 29 this week to end a dismal spell.

The Bianconeri travel south to meet a Napoli side that has lost four of their last five games in Saturday's early game.

Catania take on Atalanta in Bergamo looking for their first win on the road this season while relegation-threatened Chievo attempt to keep up their unbeaten run in 2009 when they host Sampdoria.

Lecce travel to Siena looking to extend their advantage over the bottom three.

The Salentini hold the last safety position but are just two points clear of Torino and Chievo.

All ten matches in Serie A this weekend will start 15 minutes later than their original kick off times as a mark of protest by the Italian Footballers' Association (AIC) towards the year-long punishments handed to Napoli's Daniele Mannini and Brescia's Davide Possanzini who were late for drug tests in 2007.

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