Verona and Parma could throw a spanner into the European ambitions of both Milan giants this weekend while Juventus travel to Genoa looking to tighten their stranglehold on italy’s Serie A. Inter are firmly in the race for a place in next season’s UEFA Europa League although they travel to ambitious Verona on Saturday with Parma sitting only one point further adrift in sixth and with a game in hand.
For city neighbours AC Milan the situation is dire. Three days after elimination from the UEFA Champions League last 16 at the hands of Atletico Madrid, Clarence Seedorf’s side host Parma knowing that anything less than a win would deal a massive blow to their top five hopes and a place in Europe.
Milan currently sit tenth, but are nine points adrift of Inter Milan, eight behind Parma and five behind a Verona side who have consistently shown their European ambitions all season. Inter may be 28 points off the title pace but having missed out on Europe this season, Walter Mazzarri’s men could arguably possess the extra spark needed for a hectic finale.
Milan returned from Atletico Madrid with their tails between their legs following a 5-1 aggregate defeat in which star striker Mario Balotelli’s troubles continued. The Italian international received widespread criticism for his performance and risks being replaced in the starting line-up by Giampaolo Pazzini, who has shown plenty of enterprise but no goals in his last three starts.
Juventus, meanwhile, travel to Genoa on Sunday looking to build on the momentum of a precious 1-0 win over Fiorentina last week when second-place Roma fell 1-0 at Napoli. Juve have lost only once this season – a 4-2 reverse to Fiorentina in October – and drew 1-1 with Fiorentina in the Europa League last 16 first-leg on Thursday.
Last week Napoli launched their bid for a second successive runner-up finish thanks to a 1-0 win over Roma, who are three points ahead with a game in hand. Although still in Europa League contention, despite losing 1-0 at FC Porto on Thursday, and facing Fiorentina in the Coppa Italia final, goalkeeper Pepe Reina said claiming second and an automatic Champions League spot is Napoli’s priority.
“We believe we can finish second,” Reina told La Gazzetta dello Sport. “We’ll fight until the end of the season because it’s an important goal for this club.”
Italian Serie A Fixtures
Saturday, 15 March
Verona v Inter MIlan
Monday, 17 March
Torino v Napoli
Roma v Udinese