A straightforward weekend for the top three in Serie A – on paper at least, as Inter, Milan and Juventus all face teams in the bottom half of the table.
But, as Chievo proved by beating Milan last week, nothing can be taken for granted in this league.
After a successful Champions League week for Italian clubs, with Juve and Milan securing qualification, and Roma and Inter now only a point away from it, French star Lilian Thuram is hailing a “new mentality” for Italian clubs in Europe.
The defensive lynchpin travels with his Juventus team-mates to Modena this week, with Italian club football on something of a high once more, after a period of poor performances in Europe. But Thuram believes the disappointments are a thing of the past.
“The mental approach of Italian sides has changed after the failures of the past fewyears. They have acquired a new way of thinking,” he claimed.
“Something that Roma too showed against Real Madrid when they won 1-0. Once, Italian clubs would travel in Europe with no intention of playing their own game of football,” he continued.
“But that has changed and that was needed.”
Thuram is set to continue at right back for the champions against Modena, a position where he has excelled despite complaining whe he was first forced to play there.
“I’ve always said that I preferred to play in the centre but I have to admit that I am finding it stimulating playing as a full-back,” he revealed.
“But the most important thing for me is to be playing regularly.”
Inter, three points clear at the top, travel to third from bottom Como, and after a comprehensive 3-0 defeat of Rosenborg in the Champions League on Wednesday, the Nerrazzurri will be confident of cementing their lead further.
Argentinean midfielder Matias Almeyda is aware that this is the type of game that Inter must win if the title is to be won.
“These are matches that make the difference in the championship. The teams with title ambitions must win these kind of matches,” he said.
‘They are the most difficult ones, but they count very much,’ he added, perhaps mindful of last season’s defeat to Atalanta late in the season, which eventually cost Inter the Scudetto. ‘If you want to win the Scudetto you cannot let go of these points.”
Milan host Reggina hit by suspensions at the heart of their team. The in-form Andrea Pirlo is banned after his sending off against Chievo, while skipper Paolo Maldini is unavailable after being deemed by TV evidence to have kicked out at Oliver Bierhoff last week. A disciplinary panel banned Maldini for one game after being shown an action replay of the incident, which went unpunished by the match referee.
“Maldini is the victim of public opinion,” berated coach Carlos Ancelotti. “Only the referee must decide if TV evidence is to be claimed, when he has doubts about what happened on the pitch.”
Elsewhere, fourth place Lazio go to Empoli, and resuurgent Roma entertain Perugia.
Udinese v Bologna
Como v Inter
Milan v Reggina
Parma v Chievo