5 things to know about the Italian league
Nov. 21, 2013
MILAN (AP) — Juventus will be looking to provisionally take over the lead in Serie A when it visits Livorno on Sunday, while Roma hosts Cagliari. Juventus beat third-place Napoli before the international break to cut Roma's advantage to one point, following a second successive draw for the capital club.
Napoli hosts Parma, while this weekend also sees the first Verona derby in 11 years. Fifth-place Fiorentina travels to Udinese and troubled AC Milan hosts Genoa.
Here are five things to know entering this weekend's Italian league matches:
Once again there is talk of AC Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri facing the sack as his team continues to struggle in Serie A.
Milan is winless in its past four league matches and lies 10th in the table, 15 points behind third-placed Napoli and four points off the bottom three. It hosts Genoa on Saturday with a number of players still out injured, while captain Riccardo Montolivo is suspended.
Milan stuck by Allegri last season, when the team was also in a perilous position, and vice president Adriano Galliani has given the beleaguered coach a vote of confidence.
One of the few bright lights at Milan has been Kaka, who has impressed since his return from Real Madrid. And the Brazilian has vowed there is more to come.
"Every game and every match I feel more like I'm at home and bit by bit I'm getting better with these guys and I'm beginning to take the team in hand as a leader," Kaka said.
"I want to qualify for the Champions League knockout stages and start climbing up the league table as a gift to these fans."
VERONA DERBY RETURN
The Verona derby returns after an 11-year absence when high-flying Hellas Verona hosts bottom place Chievo Verona on Saturday.
Hellas has impressed since winning promotion to Serie A and is in sixth place with seven victories. It has also won all six of its home matches.
Chievo has only six points from 12 matches and is four points away from safety, with just one win. Coach Giuseppe Sannino was fired during the international break — two days after the team held AC Milan to a goalless home draw — and Eugenio Corini was rehired.
Corini coached Chievo last season and steered the club to a 12th-place finish but fell out with president Luca Campedelli.
Juventus travels to struggling Livorno on Sunday knowing it can provisionally take over top spot, with leader Roma not playing until the following day.
However, it is facing a crisis in defense, with Stephan Lichtsteiner injured and Angelo Ogbonna and Leonardo Bonucci out suspended. Andrea Barzagli is also a doubt.
Midfielders Claudio Marchisio and Arturo Vidal could also miss the match with injury. Even if Vidal is passed fit, Juventus will have to get special dispensation to use the Chilean international as FIFA rules prevent a player from appearing for his club up to five days after missing an international with injury.
Giorgio Chiellini and Mirko Vucinic are likely to return from injury.
"There's a bit of an emergency at the back but I'm feeling good, I will be available unless there are any surprises," former Livorno defender Chiellini said. "We were great before the break and we have to start again from where we left off. You saw the real Juventus in the last four games.
"We know the difficulties you can face after a break and also that you can't underestimate anyone so as not to lose points that could be decisive. We have never done so and it won't happen this time."
Serie A leader Roma is looking to get back on track after two consecutive draws when it hosts Cagliari on Monday.
Roma remains top after a stunning start to the season which saw it win its opening 10 games, but has seen its lead cut to one point above two-time reigning champion Juventus.
"This break allowed us to recharge the batteries a bit and sort out a couple of situations, with important players coming back from injury," goalkeeper Morgan De Sanctis said. "We will try in every way and using all our strengths to get the best out of the next match against Cagliari."
Cagliari, which sits 13th in the table after three defeats in its past four matches, has won its past two league matches at Roma's Stadio Olimpico.
NEW INTER PRESIDENT
For the first time in 18 years Massimo Moratti will not be president of Inter Milan when it visits Bologna on Sunday.
New owner Erick Thohir has been elected as club president, with Moratti granted the role of honorary president.
Thohir will not be present at the match, after flying out of Italy on Thursday morning. He is scheduled to return on Nov. 28, ahead of Inter's home match against Sampdoria.
Indonesian businessman Thohir, who is also part owner of the Philadelphia 76ers and D.C. United, bought a majority stake of Inter last month.
Inter is fourth in the standings, while Bologna is just a point off the relegation zone.