Rome, Italy (Sports Network) – Both AC Milan and Roma have big Champions League contests coming up this week, but they first must play each other in a Serie A showdown at the Stadio Olimpico on Saturday.
Milan will meet Bayern Munich and Roma takes on Manchester United in Europe’s premier soccer competition, but Milan first must make sure that they will qualify for the Champions League next season, as they are currently four points behind Palermo for the final spot.
An eight-point deduction for match-fixing at the start of the season has left the Rossoneri out of qualification at the present time, but with 10 games remaining and a struggling Palermo side within reach, Saturday’s game has a lot more meaning to the visitors.
Roma, meanwhile, have their Champions League place pretty much secured for next season. The club enters Saturday’s clash with a nine-point lead on third- placed Lazio, but is hopelessly stuck in second behind runaway-leaders Inter Milan, who have a whopping 18-point cushion.
Milan comes into the game with more urgency, but also more in the way of injuries to deal with. Manager Carlo Ancelotti will have to due without the services of suspended defender Daniele Bonera, while fellow back-line mate Kakha Kaladze will miss the game due to injury, and captain Paolo Maldini is questionable with a knee problem.
Roma boss Luciano Spalletti is likely to rest a number of players who have slight injuries ahead of the team’s Champions League showdown. Defenders Max Tonetto and Matteo Ferrari both have a small problem with muscle strains and will likely be held out, but the return to the back line of Cristian Chivu will provide a boost to Serie A’s top defensive team.
In Saturday’s other Serie A contest, relegation-battling Reggina, who is just one point clear of the drop zone, hosts Siena.
On Sunday, Fiorentina continue to battle for a spot in Europe and visit Atalanta, Cagliari hosts Messina, who is in the midst of a relegation struggle, Sampdoria looks to remain in the top half of the standings when they travel to Chievo and Empoli tries to hold on to their top-five ranking with a win on home soil against last-placed Ascoli. League-leaders Inter Milan can take another step towards the league crown with a home win against Parma, Livorno battles Catania Calcio at Armando Picchi, fourth-placed Palermo needs a win at Torino to hang on to its Champions League spot and third-placed Lazio takes to the road to meet Udinese.