A little neighbourly feeling would not go amiss in Serie A this weekend when Internazionale FC visit AC Chievo Verona and Milan AC entertain AS Roma.
One favour deserves another
League leaders Inter can do their city rivals Milan a favour by beating one of the two teams above them in the race for fourth place and a UEFA Champions League spot. Milan can return it with victory over the side two points behind the Nerazzurri in the title run-in.
Machiavellian world of calcio
Straightforward, however, is not the word for the Machiavellian world of calcio portrayed in this week’s Italian papers by the Inter president Massimo Moratti. “I don’t wish to make inflammatory comments, but the history of Juventus-Milan has not always been favourable to Inter when Inter have been close to winning the title,” said Moratti.
Milan’s own goal
Last weekend, a late own goal by Milan’s José Chamot gift-wrapped victory to Juventus and the three points they needed to stay in third position and title contention. “I just hope Milan play to their potential against Roma,” Moratti added, before turning his attentions to Juve’s next opponents, Piacenza FC. In the build-up to their trip to the Galleana stadium, the Turin giants have been linked with a move for Piacenza’s prolific front man, Dario Hubner. “I see that Juve are signing Hubner,” Moratti said. “This seems odd to me - that [Juventus coach Marcello] Lippi should be talking up Hubner in this of all weeks.”
Chievo have their say
Whatever, all Moratti really need worry about is whether his men can overcome Chievo at the Marc’Antonio Bentegodi stadium on Sunday. The season’s surprise package, Chievo are the men in possession of fourth position. But even if they miss out on the Champions League, they may still have a say on the destination of the Scudetto. This week they face Inter, next week it is Roma.
Inter’s injury worries
Chievo's coach, Luigi Del Neri, said: “We’re in good health and ready for the final sprint, even though we’re facing big teams like Inter and Roma.” Del Neri chooses from a full squad but his opposite number, Héctor Cúper, is likely to be without the injured Christian Vieri and Marco Materazzi. Inter, three games away from their first title in 13 years, want to avenge their 2-1 home defeat by the Verona outfit in December.
Roma raring to go
Back at San Siro, meanwhile, Milan can do Inter the favour Moratti has been asking for these past seven days. Rossoneri coach Carlo Ancelotti misses injured captain Paolo Maldini for the Roma game as well as midfielder Demetrio Albertini who will skip this summer’s FIFA World Cup finals with an achilles problem. Cosmin Contra and Thomas Helveg are rated doubtful. Roma also have question marks against the availability of forwards Marco Delvecchio and Francesco Totti and midfield player Francisco Lima while Gabriel Batistuta is a definite absentee. Totti, however, is desperate to be fit - and to reclaim the title Roma won last May. “Inter seem to be tiring while we are raring to go,” he said.
No vacancies at Juve
More is the pity for Juventus if that is the case. The ‘No vacancies’ sign is up on the treatment-room door at the Delle Alpi stadium with Enzo Maresca, Paolo Montero, Gianluca Pessotto, Marcelo Salas and Igor Tudor all out of the Piacenza tie.
Baggio is back
One player reporting a clean bill of health is Roberto Baggio. The former Italian international hopes to make an emotional comeback after knee ligament surgery in Brescia Calcio’s home game with AC Fiorentina, the first club of his much-travelled career. Fiorentina are already relegated and US Lecce and Udinese Calcio could join them in the second tier unless they start winning – beginning on Sunday against Torino Calcio and AC Venezia. Elsewhere, S.S. Lazio host Hellas-Verona FC, Bologna FC travel to AC Perugia, and Atalanta BC go to a Parma AC side still not safe from the drop themselves.
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