The biggest game in round 30 of Serie A sees European-chasing sides Inter and Lazio meet each other at the San Siro.
After last week’s morale boosting win against Brescia and qualification for the Champions League semis on Tuesday, Inter are looking to cement second place in the league and keep their faint hopes of the Scudetto alive. Defeat would mean Juventus would almost certainly wrap up the title.
Inter have been dealt a huge blow with the news that topgoal scorer Chritian Vieri is out for three weeks. Vieri, who has scored 24 league goals this season, looks likely to be replaced by Recoba up front.
Coach Hector Cuper goes into a game with a vote of confidence from President Moratti, but will be without the suspended Pasquale and Cristiano Zanetti.
Defender Marco Materazzi believes the chase for the title is not over yet.
“We have to continue to believe. We have to try and win all the remaining matches. Certain sides could make false steps and it’s important not to give up,” he told Inter online.
“We have to believe right to the end. Compliments to the side that manages to stay out in front and not drop points.”
Lazio are fourth in the league and are only six points behind Inter so a win would put them only three points behind second place and back in contention for a Champions League spot.
They cannot dwell on their elimination from the UEFA Cup midweek and must concentrate on the weekend’s game. Roberto Mancini is without the suspended Mihajlovic, but Pancaro, Favalli and Lastroman are available again.
Lazio’s impressive away form this season also leaves them in good shape for getting a result.
The other impportant game of the weekend sees Milan travel to Roma in a dress rehearsal of the Coppa Italia final.
Milan will want to keep their momentum from Champions League progression midweek into league form and put last week’s shock defeat to Empoli behind them.
Ancelotti’s men are now three points behind Inter in the battle for runner-up spot and visit the capital without Kaladze and Serginho as well as long term injuryduo Pirlo and Seedorf.
Roma lost to Juve last week and need to win to keep their hopes of European qualification via the league alive.
Two fixtures see European chasing sides play teams threatened by relegation.
Empoli have defeated two top six sides, Chievo and Milan, in recent weeks. They will want to make it three in a row against Udinese. Their good run means they are now five points clear of the relegation zone in thirteenth place.
Udinese got their season back on track with a 3-2 win against strugglers Como last week. They lost the last European slot in the league with a poor run of defeats last month but are still only four points adrift of sixth place. A lack of goals has proved their downfall.
In the other crunch game relegation threatened Reggina take on Parma. Parma are still only four points of a Champion’s League spot after winning four games out of five and will be hoping Adriano keeps up his good goal scoring form for the game.
Despite Reggina’s lowly position, Matteo Ferrari expects a tough game.
“Reggina are fighting not to go down and they have earned a lot of points at home.”
“Away from home however, they have always had some difficulties and this means they are probably missing a bit of leadership. We have to exploit this and enter the pitch with great determination. Wehave to attack from the first minute.”
Reggina have taken just one point in six and have a very tough run-in. They are only one place and one point ahead of Atalanta who occupy the final relegation spot.
In the other weekend fixtures, Atalanta’s new coach Giancorlo Finardi has his first game in charge against bottom side Torino. Bologna play Chievo, Modena travel to Coma, Piacenza take on Perugia and David Trezeguet may make his comeback when Juve play Brescia.