Milanese derby has added value for both contenders (Italian Preview)

May 1st, 2008 - 5:56 pm ICT by admin  

Milan, May 1 (DPA) Inter Milan and AC Milan have big goals in their sights when they play their city derby Sunday with three games left to the end of the Italian Serie A football season. Leaders Inter may secure a third straight title with a win, but will win the championship with any result keeping them six points ahead of second-place Roma.

The Rome side need to leapfrog the leaders to win a scudetto that, in case of a tie at the top, Inter would secure thanks to a win and a draw in the direct clashes as the head-to-head results act as a tie- breaker in the Serie A.

For Milan, the showdown is a crucial step as their chase a Fiorentina side currently occupying the fourth available Champions League berth.

The classic tie at the Giuseppe Meazza could be the first for young Brazilian star Alexandre Pato, who rested last weekend as veteran Filippo Inzaghi scored a hat-trick in a 4-1 demolition of bottom-side Livorno.

“I hope to play, and if I do, I always hope to score to give Milan victory, so I can do my heart gesture,” Pato said.

Pato’s habit of celebrating goals by curling his thumbs and forefingers to form a heart has become his trademark since he joined the Devils in January.

The 18-year-old will be one of many Brazilians on the pitch and may have to clash with compatriot Andrade Maxwell, a defence mainstay in Inter’s recent games.

“We have a wonderful opportunity to close the season a little in advance with a game that is special for us footballers, for the fans and for the club,” Maxwell said.

“We have been playing as each game was a final for the past three or four weeks. This can be the last effort and we’ll give our maximum to win.”

Roma will also do their best to keep hopes alive as they visit Sampdoria, a Genoa side not willing to give up the UEFA Cup berth they currently hold.

Hoping for a slip-up from Roma are third-place Juventus when they visit mid-table Siena in Tuscany.

Juve are certain to play the next Champions League, but are keen on leapfrogging Roma and avoid a preliminary round set for late August.

No easy task awaits Fiorentina away to lowly Cagliari, where the Florence side travel after a UEFA Cup semi-final they play late Thursday with Rangers.

Udinese are two points adrift from a UEFA Cup berth when they visit struggling Empoli, Atalanta host a desperate Livorno lying last one point behind Parma, who entertain Genoa.

Catania and Reggina battle for survival, Torino are also at risk as they host Napoli, while Lazio are fairly safe as they play at home with Palermo.

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