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Milan look for Brazilian balance

ROME, December 3 – AC Milan are desperate to strike a Brazilian balance as they look to extend their lead at the top of Serie A this weekend with Robinho and Ronaldinho facing dramatically different futures at the Italian giants.

Milan welcome relegation-haunted Brescia on Saturday where a win could see them go six points clear at the top if city rivals Inter can see off second-placed Lazio on Friday.

That would be a scenario which would suit Robinho who is enjoying his time in Milan after his ill-starred stay with Manchester City.

"I won’t move anymore. I will stay in red and black for another 10 years. Football is my passion and thanks to Milan I am happy again," said Robinho, who scored in the 1-1 draw with Sampdoria last week which ended a four-game winning run.

"Milan is an important chance that I don’t want to miss. I know myself. I know that when I am physically healthy and I feel at home I can give my best. Milan is the ideal environment."

Not everyone at Milan is smiling though as Ronaldinho is currently out of favour with coach Massimiliano Allegri.

"I didn’t mean to humiliate him," says Allegri after using the on-form Ronaldinho as a very late substitute in their last two matches.

With Milan producing stylish football without him Allegri will stick with the rugged midfield formula of Gennaro Gatusso, Mathieu Flamini, Massimo Ambrosini and veteran Clarence Seedorf.

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Inter Milan’s bid to prove they have stopped the rot with a win at second placed Lazio also tops the Serie A bill, a week ahead of a players’ strike next weekend.

Under-fire Inter Milan coach Rafael Benitez hopes to ease the pressure weighing on the reigning Italian and European champions by building on the 5-2 destruction of Parma last week.

While Inter still have a string of injuries with ‘keeper Julio Cesar and defenders Walter Samuel and Maicon all out, Lazio have dropped ten of the last 15 points, thereby letting slip their stranglehold on the top spot.

In the absence of injured Diego Milito and banned Samuel Eto’o, Inter’s hardman Dejan Stankovic scored a hat-trick in the 5-2 win and symbolises the grit Benitez has called for as he tries to rally a side still struggling after Jose Mourinho’s departure.

Third-placed Juventus on 24 points were turfed out of the Europa League in midweek without having registering a single win, and now face a tricky domestic trip to ninth placed Catania, who are unbeaten at home so far this season.

"This elimination means nothing," claimed their coach Luigi Delneri. "We’ll be going back to Europe soon," he promised, eyeing a top four finish and a shot at the Champions League.

A seven-match undefeated run counted for little for AS Roma last week as a 3-1 defeat at Palermo provided the latest twist to their roller coaster season.

"We’re playing badly away from home right now," said Roma coach Claudio Ranieri whose team travel to Chievo.

Fixtures

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Friday

Lazio v Inter Milan

Saturday

Chievo v AS Roma, AC Milan v Brescia

Sunday

Cesena v Bologne, Fiorentina v Cagliari, Lecce v Genova, Parma v Udinese, Sampdoria v Bari, Catania v Juventus Turin

Monday

Napoli v Palermo

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