ROME, April 15 – AC Milan will take another step towards securing their first Serie A title in seven years if they stick to the form book and take all three points off relegation-threatened Sampdoria on Saturday.
The ‘Rossoneri’ have a three-point lead over Napoli, who host Udinese in Sunday’s late match, with Inter away to Parma Saturday hoping to claw back their five-point deficit to their city rivals.
Having enjoyed the lead for the past 20 matches, Milan seem to be growing in confidence as the countdown to the season finale begins.
"I think we deserve this title," said Milan captain Gennaro Gattuso.
"We’ve been top of the table for the past 20 match days and we’ve twice beat Napoli and Inter, who are second and third.
"That said, we still have six matches to play."
After Saturday’s game, Milan can look forward to a fairly easy title run in, with matches against Brescia (away), Bologna, Roma (away), Cagliari and Udinese.
Compare that to Napoli’s arguably tougher task — Palermo (away), Genoa, Lecce (away), Inter and Juventus (away) — and they have every right to be looking forward to a first league crown since 2004.
Milan will be missing Zlatan Ibrahimovic through suspension, after the Swedish striker insulted a referee and copped a three-match ban.
His absence could pave the way for Antonio Cassano, a Sampdoria reject in October, to start and exact some kind of revenge on his former club, who finished an impressive fourth in 2010 but are now just a point above the relegation zone.
Napoli’s hunger for the league title has been intact since Argentine legend Diego Maradona helped them win the Scudetto in 1990.
Walter Mazzarri’s side welcomes back hot-shot striker Edinson Cavani, who has scored an impressive 25 league goals this season, following his one-match suspension last week.
But as their dream season continues, Mazzarri is urging caution every weekend.|
"At the moment our season is stratospheric, but we’re taking it one match at a time," he said. "Now we have another tough match and we’re thinking about Sunday."
While Cavani returns for Napoli, Udinese will be without injured Chilean striker Alexis Sanchez. Having recently dropped out of the Champions League running to fifth, Udinese will be determined to take something from the match.
Both Napoli and Milan will be keen to see how Inter fare away to Parma on Saturday.
Last year’s Serie A, Italian Cup and Champions League winners, Inter exited Europe on Wednesday when a 2-1 defeat to Schalke 04 left them with a humbling 7-3 aggregate score against the Germans.
Despite their five-point deficit, Inter’s Dutch striker Wesley Sneijder said there is still plenty to play for.
"We have to put this elimination behind us and focus on the objectives we have left," said Sneijder. "We still want to win the Scudetto and the Italian Cup."
The race for fourth place — synonymous with the final Champions League place for next season — is just as tight, with Lazio, Udinese, Roma and Juventus all battling.
Fourth-placed Lazio are away at Catania, who sit just five points above the relegation zone while Roma, in sixth, host Sicilians Palermo.
Juventus, in seventh and six points behind Lazio, travel to Fiorentina.
AS Roma v Palermo, AC Milan v Sampdoria, Parma v Inter Milan
Catania v Lazio, Cesena v Bari, Chievo v Bologna, Fiorentina v Juventus, Genoa v Brescia, Lecce v Cagliari, Napoli v Udinese