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Serie A preview: Juve face pumped-up Milan

AC Milan and Serie A leaders Juventus clash on Sunday after both secured safe passage to the Champions League’s knockout stages.

Though their league standing contrasts greatly – Juventus are first, Milan 12th – both sides have reason to celebrate after mid-week successes.

Antonio Conte’s Juventus disposed of Chelsea’s ‘false nine’ formation with surgical precision on Tuesday in a 3-0 win, earning considerable validation against the Champions League holders.

Milan, meanwhile, caught Anderlecht on the break in a 3-1 win and are also safely through to the last 16.

Defender Philippe Mexes, who netted a overhead strike on Wednesday, limped off late and will be monitored.

Injury-plagued striker Alexandre Pato is threatening to quit the club in January if he does not receive more playing time.

The Brazilian has been kept at bay by the staggering form of Stephan El Shaarawy, who has 10 league goals already, but given the club’s financial woes, a move away may be beneficial for both parties.

Juventus have shown time and time again they are near impossible to beat in Serie A but with the lethal Shaarawy and the home fixture, Milan may have enough fire power to trouble the league leaders.

Inter Milan are sweating on suspended duo Antonio Cassano and head coach Andrea Stramaccioni for their protests at the end of the 2-2 draw with Cagliari, which the club says they will appeal.

Cassano was handed a two-match ban and Stramaccioni one match for their reactions to the referee’s decision not to award a late penalty, with both set to miss Inter’s trip to Parma on Monday.

Inter are second in the table, four points behind Juventus, but could have cut that to two had the penalty been awarded.

In the other match on Monday, Cagliari entertain fourth-placed Napoli at the Stadio Is Arenas.

Third-placed Fiorentina will be looking to make it six wins on the trot at Torino on Sunday while Sampdoria host Bologna, who hauled themselves off the bottom of the table with a 3-0 win over Palermo.

On Friday, Palermo take on seventh-placed Catania, who are undefeated in four games.

Lazio take on Udinese on Tuesday with the latter looking to break a run of four straight draws.

On Sunday, Atalanta play rock-bottom Genoa, Chievo host lowly Siena while sitting only one point above the drop zone themselves and Pescara welcome Roma to the Stadio Adriatico.

Thu 22 November, 2012
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