AC Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti has told his side it is “imperative” they beat city rivals Inter at the San Siro on Sunday. Ancelotti has been the centre of attention in Milan this week after being linked with the Chelsea job following the departure of Luiz Felipe Scolari. But the 49-year-old has confirmed he has no interest in moving to Stamford Bridge and is now focusing on the Serie A title race.
The Rossoneri go into the clash eight points behind league leaders Inter and Milan Ancelotti knows victory this weekend is essential for his side if they are to have a chance of catching the three-time defending champions.
“It is imperative for us to win it,” said Ancelotti, whose team dropped two points in their last match. Last weekend’s 1-1 draw against Reggina doesn’t change our aim on the derby. We would have had to win the derby even if we had been six points behind Inter. Now there is more reason to win it.”
Ancelotti will be without injured playmaker Kaka, but he believes that even without the Brazilian star, Milan can surprise Inter as they did in their 1-0 triumph over the Nerazzurri earlier this campaign.
That success came courtesy of a Ronaldinho goal.
“I think we can have our say in this game, just as we did earlier this season against them,” he said. “Even if Kaka is unavailable, my team is well.”
Second-placed Juventus will be rooting for AC Milan as they attempt to reduce the seven-point gap to Inter. Juve host strugglers Sampdoria this weekend.
Genoa will have a chance to reclaim fourth when they host Fiorentina, who hold the last Champions League qualifying spot after their narrow win against Lazio last weekend.
The Viola moved one point clear of Genoa, who suffered a heavy defeat at Roma but remain unbeaten at home this season.
If results go their way, Roma, who travel north to play Atalanta, could end up fourth this weekend. Luciano Spalletti’s men had a disappointing start to the season but are unbeaten in 2009, solid form that has seen them move level on 40 points with Genoa heading into their game in Bergamo.
Palermo go into Sunday’s game at bottom side Reggina in buoyant mood after last weekend’s 2-1 triumph over Napoli. The result lifted the Sicilian giants to seventh in the standings, five points behind sixth-placed Roma.
Lazio will play at the Stadio Olimpico against relegation-threatened Torino on Saturday. The Biancoceleste slumped to 11th in the standings after last weekend’s setback at Fiorentina, their fourth defeat in a row.
Torino have yet to win on the road all season while Lazio have failed to find the back of the net in their last two matches.
Cagliari will attempt to bounce back from Sunday’s narrow defeat against Atalanta when they meet strugglers Lecce. Before that loss, Cagliari had won four consecutive games.
With just one point in their last five games, Napoli will be under pressure to deliver in front of the home fans when they host Bologna.
Catania make the journey to Verona to meet 19th-placed Chievo hoping to celebrate their first win on the road this season. The islanders have collected just four points in 11 games away from home.
Pasquale Marino’s Udinese have won seven points out of a possible nine in their last three games and will look to claim another positive outcome at Siena.