Having successfully taken the wind out of Chelsea’s sails on Wednesday night Inter Milan may opt for a slightly more relaxed approach to Sunday’s clash with Udinese. The reason for this being that Pasquale Marino’s men lie a desolate 15th in Serie A, while Jose Mourinho’s team are flying high at the top of the table and will not have to worry about the return Champions League fixture until March 16. Inter fans will no doubt be expecting a full strength line up.
The Special One’s recent courtship with the Italian media will most certainly attract attention this coming weekend but Mourinho insists that he ‘came to Inter an honest man’ and that this will not change on account of Italy’s persistent journalists. Having gained one up on Carlo Ancelotti midweek Mourinho will have to conduct his team’s proceedings against Udinese from the stands having been handed a three match ban following his previous protests. If any player is to bother the Inter defence, which will be short of Walter Samuel and Ivan Cordoba, it will most likely be Antonio Di Natale who has been in sensational form of late, especially after coming to Udinese’s rescue against Cagliari last time out.
The difference between first and second place at the top of Serie A has been reduced to 5 points now and AC Milan will be looking to reduce the tally further with what should be a walk in the park against opposition who are already fighting relegation, Atalanta. Klaas-Jan Huntelaar has found some form recently and will be buoyed by his goal against Fiorentina. After the match he stated ‘I have now got six goals this season and I would like to keep up this pace.’ The Dutchman has found it tough going since his summer move but with an important Champions League second leg match away to Manchester United looming Leonardo will be pleased that his strikers are finding the net. Atalanta must now take every game as it comes and hope that the teams around them such as Livorno, Siena, and Catania will slip up.
Coincidentally Livorno are hosting Siena at the Stadio Armando Picchi on Sunday, a fixture that Atlanta will hope to be a draw. Six points separate the two teams at the foot of the table with the Bianconeri on 17 and the Amaranto on 23, with each side in desperate need of the maximum points. Siena have faltered and stuttered their way through a difficult season but with a win and two draws from their last three games there may be a glint of hope evident in Serse Cosmi’s eye. His side will be desperate to make up invaluable ground on Livorno – a win is all the Tuscans will be looking for. Livorno have taken a mere two points from a possible 18 but the upcoming tie may be the perfect opportunity to right some wrongs while picking up what have proved to be evasive points.
Parma vs Sampdoria is likely to be a closely contested match especially when taking into account that the Blucerchiati have not only Nicola Pozzi suspended but also Giampaolo Pazzini. This leaves a serious void up front but creates an opening for fledgling striker Stefan Scepovic to shine. He has not yet earned a starting place during his short career but should be fully motivated to face Parma who have lost three consecutive matches, with their last victory coming against Bologna way back in December.
In the rest of this weekend’s fixtures Roma face an impressive Napoli side in an important 5th vs 3rd clash, with Roma keen to make amends for their defeat to Panathinaikos in mid week which saw them dumped out of Europe. Francesco Totti and Luca Toni remain in the treatment room so Mirko Vucinic will start up front having scored in his last league fixture. Juventus, having already lost four home games this season will not be looking to do the same against Palermo who sit just a solitary point behind them, a crucial clash in light of the coveted fourth and final Champions League spot.