ROME, December 17 – Roma are the only team standing between AC Milan and a winter escape as Serie A gets ready to shut down for the Christmas holiday period.Milan already lead the table by six points with Juventus, Napoli and Lazio all level in the chase to rejoin the leaders.
And those teams, as well as Roma themselves, champions Inter Milan and even Palermo, will all be hoping that Roma can knock over the rossoneri and re-ignite the title race.
However, to do so they will have to find a way of stopping the current in-form striker in the league, Milan’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
The big Swede, who has previously played for Juventus and Inter, is aiming at big things with his team-mates.
"We want to win everything, that’s normal. We have three objectives – the league, the Champions League and the Italian Cup," he said.
"We have to concentrate and work hard and then we’ll be rewarded.
Ibrahimovic already won the Serie A title five times in a row before moving to Barcelona last season and winning the Spanish crown there as well.
Before moving to Italy he also won the Dutch league with Ajax, making that seven titles in a row.
However, his first two in Italy with Juventus were rescinded due to the calciopoli match-fixing scandal.
Even so, this is a man who knows inside out the atmosphere at a successful trophy-winning club, but Ibrahimovic claims he’s never felt better than at Milan.
"In these last few months I’ve seen the great tradition here. I have a great relationship with my team-mates, we help each help each other," he said.
"I’ve never breathed such an atmosphere before."
Not only do Milan have Ibrahimovic and his strike partner Robinho, who has also been in fine goalscoring form recently, but according to the big Swede, the return of midfield general Gennaro Gattuso from injury this weekend will be crucial.
"He’s a great player, a motivator, he’s pure adrenaline. He pushes the group forwards," said Ibrahimovic.
"On the pitch he’s an animal, without him it’s tough."
However, Roma are the team who finished runners-up in four of the last five seasons behind Inter and their president Rosella Sensi insists they should not feel belittled by Milan.
They also boast striker Marco Borriello, the man sold by Milan to make way for Ibrahimovic at the start of the season.
And Sensi admitted he is likely to be chomping at the bit ahead of this game.
"He’s a great professional but he’ll probably be eagerly expecting this occasion," she said.
"We’re extremely competitive. Last year was a feat, no-one expected us to come back the way we did (from a 14-point deficit to Inter they breifly went top), especially against Inter with all their great players.
"But our squad this year is extremely competitive, I can’t predict anything but I can say that we have the potential to go all the way."
Roma can’t afford to lose if they are to harbour hopes of winning the title this season, though, as they are already 10 points behind Milan.
And if they do managed to get a result, Juve will be looking to take advantage as they travel to inconsistent Chievo.
Lazio will also be expecting to win at home to Udinese while Napoli, buoyed by their qualification to the Europa League knock-out phase, will hope they can beat lowly Lecce and close the gap.
As for Inter, they run the risk of dropping to 16 points off the pace (albeit with two games in hand) if Milan do win.
Cesena v Cagliari, AC Milan v Roma
Lazio v Udinese, Bari v Palermo, Catania v Brescia, Chievo v Juventus, Napoli v Lecce, Parma v Bologna, Sampdoria v Genoa