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Serie A Preview – Playing after the tragedy

Italian football players will go into this weekend’s Serie A games with heavy hearts because of the earthquake that struck in the Abruzzo region. Monday’s quake was the worst natural disaster to hit the nation in 30 years, claiming the lives of 250 people and leaving thousands homeless.

Roma’s Italy international Daniele De Rossi, who plays his football 60 miles away at the Stadio Olimpico, said:

“It’s a surreal atmosphere. It is the closest tragedy that I can remember. There are villages and cities destroyed and to talk about football seems out of place and rather difficult. I hope that in a world as rich as ours things will be done to help.”

Some top-flight clubs have announced they will donate all of the revenue gained from this weekend’s games to disaster relief. Players will wear black armbands and a minute’s silence will be observed before kick-off.

“What happened this week should not remain in our memory just for one week,” De Rossi said.

None of the games have been called off, meaning De Rossi’s Roma will face bitter rivals Lazio. Luciano Spalletti’s side need a win to remain in the hunt for Champions League football next season. As for Lazio, they have not shown the type of form that suggests they will challenge for a berth in Europe next season. The Biancoceleste sit in mid-table at present having lost their last three games.

League leaders Inter Milan will be confident of claiming their fifth consecutive win when they entertain Palermo at the San Siro. The Nerazzurri are unbeaten at home this season and extended their lead over title contenders Juventus to nine points last weekend.

Claudio Ranieri’s Juve will be put to the test when they travel south to meet red-hot Genoa. The Turin giants were held to a 3-3 draw by Chievo in the last round, a result that proved a bitter blow for their title bid. 

A Juve success would be welcomed by Fiorentina and Roma, both looking to reduce the gap with Genoa, who are fourth and still holding onto the final Champions League qualifying spot.

Fifth-placed Fiorentina host in-form Cagliari trailing two points behind Genoa, while Roma are five adrift.

AC Milan travel to Verona to meet Chievo keen to rediscover their form on the road having won just once in their last four outings. The Rossoneri are third in the standings, five points behind Juve and four clear of Genoa.

Napoli fans will be hoping the return of Ezequiel Lavezzi from injury will inspire their team to their first victory since January 11. The Partenopei take on mid-table Atalanta.

A slip against Siena could see Bologna fall to the danger zone this weekend. The Rossoblu are two points clear of relegation-troubled Torino and Lecce.

Torino take on Catania while Lecce welcome Sampdoria.

Rock-bottom Reggina know they must revive their hopes of defending their Serie A status with a win against Udinese on Sunday.