Looking ahead to the weekend’s games in Italy

Juventus battle with Milan at the top of Serie A will continue on Saturday when the Turin side visit Messina and the Rossoneri host Cagliari.

Milan remain two points behind Juventus in the table but both teams may have their minds on other matters this weekend as they look ahead to their return to Champions League action. Milan take on Manchester United next week while Juventus have an equally daunting task at Real Madrid.

After two consecutive defeats, Juventus got back on track with a 2-1 win against Udinese last Sunday. Fabio Capello employed a 3-4-3 formation with Alessandro Del Piero, David Trezeguet and Zlatan Ibrahimovic in attack, but may not be so bold at Messina, who have lost only twice at home all season.

Pavel Nedved is close to a comeback for Juventus after a month out with a knee problem.

“We will all be very happy to have him back,” said Brazilian midfielder Emerson.

Milan needed an own goal to win at Reggina last Sunday and badly missed the creative input of Andrea Pirlo. The playmaker has since recovered from his knee injury, and coach Carlo Ancelotti is expected to rest Alessandro Nesta, Gennaro Gattuso and Kaka as he prepares for the United game on Wednesday and next Sunday’s derby against Inter.

The Nerazzurri, third in Serie A, also play on Saturday as they warm up for their Champions League trip to European champions Porto. Inter remain unbeaten in all competitions this season but are eleven points behind leaders Juventus ahead of their visit to fourth-placed Udinese.

“Eleven points is a lot but we still believe we can win the title,” said coach Roberto Mancini.

On Sunday, Sampdoria and Palermo test their European ambitions when they entertain Reggina and Lecce respectively, while seventh-placed Roma welcome Livorno without the suspended Antonio Cassano.

Parma take on fellow strugglers Brescia, while Fiorentina are at Siena for a Tuscan derby. Finally, Bologna go to bottom side Atalanta and Chievo tackle Lazio.