ROME, March 12 – AC Milan are confronting a serious injury crisis as they seek to rebuild their confidence which was so badly mauled by Manchester United in an embarrassing Champions League midweek exit.Veteran defender Alessandro Nesta’s knee problem could mean an early-season end, the last thing coach Leonardo wanted after his defence leaked four goals at Old Trafford.
"I fear Nesta’s injury could be serious," said Leonardo whose side welcome Chievo on Sunday.
Nesta missed Wednesday’s tie as did Luca Antonini while Daniele Bonera limped off at half-time with a calf problem.
By the time Milan kick off on Sunday, they could be seven points behind leaders Inter whose league game at Catania has been brought forward to Friday to allow Jose Mourinho’s side to prepare for their Champions League trip to Chelsea on Tuesday where they are defending a 2-1 lead.
Inter will go to London with plenty to prove. After Milan’s and Fiorentina’s Champions League exits, the Italian champions are Serie A’s last representatives in the competition this season.
Despite their four-point lead in the league, Inter have misfired in recent weeks.
They have won just once in their last five matches, with the other four games all ending goalless.
Their drab 0-0 stalemate at Genoa last weekend was probably their worst performance of the season at the San Siro.
Mourinho will again be watching from the stands as he serves out the last game of a three-match touchline ban.
Adding to his worries is having influential defender Walter Samuel suspended while striker Mario Balotelli misses out with a knee injury.
Balotelli and Mourinho have been at loggerheads all week.
The player was reported to have a fever in the game against Genoa, but that was dismissed as a "lie" by an angry Mourinho.
Cristian Chivu is available again after fracturing his skull against Chievo.
Third-placed Roma, who are seven points behind Inter, face struggling Livorno on Sunday, boosted by the news that Brazilian goalkeeper Julio Sergio wants to stay at the club.
The 31-year-old had established himself as Roma’s top keeper this season, but his contract expires in the summer.
Catania v Inter Milan
Napoli v Fiorentina
Bologna v Sampdoria, Genoa v Cagliari, Juventus v Siena, Lazio v Bari, Livorno v Roma, Parma v Atalanta, Udinese v Palermo, AC Milan v Chievo