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Serie A Preview: Juve and Inter Meet In Turin

Juventus supporters display a giant flag at their Italian Serie A soccer match against Palermo at the Juventus stadium in TurinIt may not be ‘top of the table’ but Inter Milan’s visit to champions and leaders Juventus is a clash neither side can really afford to lose on Sunday.

Only two weeks ago the pundits gave Juve’s scudetto rivals little chance of overcoming their respective deficits to the Bianconeri.

But Juve’s 1-1 draw away to Lazio last weekend, coupled with Roma’s 3-1 win away to Verona, has injected some life into a championship in which most teams seem to already be playing for their futures in Europe next season.

Juve host Inter without goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, handed a one-match ban for his red card last week, but with a six-point lead on Roma and Napoli a further six points adrift in third in the last UEFA Champions League qualifying spot.

Inter would like to be just as ambitious but with just eight points from their last nine games they face a formidable task.

Both sides were among those active in the transfer market on Thursday, with defender Danilo D’Ambrosio joining the Nerazzurri from Torino and the club still in negotiations to sign Brazilian midfielder Hernanes from Lazio.

Juventus, meanwhile, spent most of Thursday in talks to bring Southampton striker Dani Osvaldo back to Serie A less than six months on from his €15.1m transfer from Roma.

Following their third consecutive win last week, Roma coach Rudi Garcia played down his side’s title challenge, saying:

“We’re six points adrift, so our destiny is not in our hands.”

However Roma have scored 10 goals in their last three league games and will look to continue in the same vein against a Parma side which, nevertheless, held Inter 3-3 away in a memorable San Siro encounter at the start of December.

Roma are without Brazilian winger Dodo, who has a thigh strain, while midfielder Daniele De Rossi returned to training Thursday following an injury niggle.

Parma, meanwhile, could be without French midfielder Jonathan Biabiany, who late on Thursday was rumoured to be on the verge of signing for Milan.

Roberto Donadoni’s men could face Roma with some extra belief, with reports claiming Parma will meet Pope Francis at the Vatican on Saturday morning.

Milan, who on Thursday also signed Moroccan attacking midfielder Adel Taarabt on loan from English Premier League side Fulham, host Torino on Saturday without striker Mario Balotelli.

Balotelli was handed a one-match ban on Monday having picked up his eighth yellow card of the season for making rude gestures to Cagliari fans in last week’s win in Sardinia.