Parma awaits Mariga return


ROME, February 9– Macdonald Mariga will return to Parma on Wednesday with his new club Inter Milan as the defending Serie A champions look to go 11 points clear at the top of the table.

Jose Mourinho’s men go into the match as clear favourites, having lost just twice all season.

The last time they tasted defeat was over two months ago when they lost 2-1 away to Juventus.

Parma, meanwhile, are on a terrible run, having lost five of their last six matches and dropped down the table from fourth to 12th place.

An Inter win will put them in a strong position to secure a fifth straight Scudetto with four months of the season left to go, but midfielder Thiago Motta is keen to downplay talk of winning the championship.

"The season isn’t over. There is still a long way to go and if you mess up one or two games in a row, whoever’s behind you can catch up," he told Sky Sport Italia.

"We have done well up until now. We have worked well and we have to keep up this pace, only that way can we win the league."

On Sunday the Nerazzurri thumped Cagliari 3-0 at the San Siro thanks to goals from new signing Goran Pandev, Walter Samuel and Diego Milito.

Macedonian striker Pandev, who joined Inter from Lazio last month, was at the centre of much of Inter’s attacking moves in the absence of their suspended Dutch playmaker Wesley Sneijder.

Sneijder will sit out Wednesday’s encounter as he serves the final game of a two-match ban for his sending off in the Milan derby last month.

Inter will also have to do without defender Cristian Chivu and midfielder Dejan Stankovic, who are out injured.

Parma are not without injury problems themselves. Swiss international Blerim Dzemaili is set to miss the game after injuring his left knee against Palermo at the weekend.

Coach Francesco Guidolin says that his side have nothing to fear from the reigning champions.

"We must play with intensity if we are to trouble the Nerazzurri," he told the ANSA news agency.

"Parma are a side with great character and personality and for that reason we don’t fear Inter."

The game had been set to take place ten days ago but was cancelled due to heavy snow.