Monday, May 29, 2017

Serie A preview: Milan derby takes centre stage

AC Milan meet champions Inter Milan at the San Siro on Saturday in a match that could well define the title credentials of both sides.

Milan have topped the Serie A standings for much of the 2010-11 campaign, but Massimiliano Allegri’s men have stagnated in recent weeks and were held to a 1-1 draw at home by bottom side Bari on March 13 before slumping to a 1-0 defeat at Palermo.

Inter, by contrast, endured a difficult start to their campaign under former manager Rafael Benitez, but since he was replaced by Leonardo in December, the reigning Italian and European champions have gone from strength to strength.

Their league record since the Brazilian took over has been impeccable, with 12 wins, two losses and a draw seeing them sitting just two points behind Milan with eight games remaining.

Leonardo will be hoping for more good form from Cameroon striker Samuel Eto’o, who has scored 19 league goals this season, with four in his last four Serie A games.

Also on Saturday, Brescia will be desperate to move out of the relegation zone when they host Bologna.

Sunday sees another huge fixture, when third-placed Napoli – who are just three points behind Milan – take on a fifth-placed Lazio side who are desperate to keep their Champions League push alive.

As well as Inter, the big movers of 2011 have undoubtedly been Udinese and the northerners are unbeaten in the league so far this year from 13 games – scoring 35 goals and conceding only 10.

That form sees them lying in fourth place in the league, six points behind Milan, ahead of Sunday’s trip to relegation candidates Lecce.

Elsewhere on Sunday, sixth-placed Roma host Juventus at the Olympic stadium with a spot in next season’s Europa League the objective for both teams, and the visitors will be keen to slash Roma’s five point advantage.

Catania welcome Palermo at the Stadio Angelo Massimino for an all-Sicilian affair while struggling Cesena play host to Fiorentina.

Bari are six points adrift at the foot of the table and need maximum points from their trip to Parma, Cagliari visit Genoa in a mid-table clash and Chievo Verona welcome a Sampdoria side who are just three points clear of the relegation zone.

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