Friday, 22 May 2009

Serie A - Week 37: Weekend Preview

Paolo Maldini will play at the San Siro with AC Milan for the last time on Sunday when the Rossoneri host Roma in Serie A.

The 40-year-old captain will bring the curtain down on his 24-year career with Milan at the end of the season and it promises to be an emotional day for both Maldini and his team-mates.

"I am feeling some strong emotions at the moment," Maldini told Milan Channel. "I see this final game as a celebration of the past 25 years and I will have my friends and family around me.

"I hope I have the strength to play well and win as that would be the best way to celebrate with the people who wish me well."

The Rossoneri faithful could also be bidding farewell to coach Carlo Ancelotti's seven-year reign at the San Siro.

The 49-year-old is a target of Chelsea and Ral Madrid and rumours in Italy strongly point towards Ancelotti's departure this summer. The club are set to clarify his future on Monday if they secure the automatic spot into the UEFA Champions League.

Second-place Milan go into the clash against Roma four points clear of fourth-placed Fioretina, who they meet on the final day next week, with two rounds of games remaining.

Ancelotti's side will face a test as Roma cannot afford a defeat if they are to hold on to the last UEFA Europa League spot, with Palermo two and Udinese three points behind the sixth-placed Giallorossi.

Palermo, having collected just two wins away from Sicily, go up against Atalanta in Bergamo while red-hot Udinese take on beaten Coppa Italia finalists Sampdoria in Genoa on the back of six consecutive wins in the league.

With a fourth-straight Scudetto having already been claimed, Inter visit Cagliari where Zlatan Ibrahimovic will try to add to his 22 goals. He has one less than Serie A's top scorer, Marco Di Vaio of Bologna.

Juventus begin a new era with coach Ciro Ferrara, who replaced sacked Claudio Ranieri this week for the remaining two games.

The Turin giants travel to Tuscany to meet Siena having failed to win in their last seven matches. If Juve fail to win, Fiorentina could end up leapfrogging them into the third and final automatic Champions League place.

The Viola are one point behind Juve heading into Sunday's game at rock-bottom Lecce, who will lose their top-flight status if they fail to pick up three points.

Even a win will not be enough for the Salentini if Bologna win or if Torino avoid defeat in their games.

With Reggina having been demoted to Serie B following Wednesday's 1-0 defeat at Lazio, in a game brought forward to give UEFA time to prepare Rome's Stadio Olimpico for next week's Champions League final, there are still two relegation spots to fill.

Toro need no reminding of the importance of their game against high-flying Genoa. The Granata hold the last position of safety but only a point separates them from the relegation zone.

Chievo are still not safe yet, although it would take a number of unfavourable results for the Verona club to go down. The Flying Donkeys are four points clear of 18th-placed Bologna.

The Rossoblu could go down this weekend if they fail to beat Chievo and Torino pick up a victory.

And finally, Catania and Napoli square off at the Stadio Angelo Massimino with nothing to play for except pride.

Both teams have mustered little since assuring themselves of Serie A football next season and expect to end the campaign on a high note.

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