ROME (Reuters) – The Milanese battle for this season’s Serie A title continues at the weekend as defending champions Inter have a chance to go top on Friday but AC Milan will want to restore their narrow advantage on Sunday.
Inter trail AC Milan by two points with three games each left to play and will kick off this weekend’s fixtures at home to Empoli.
AC Milan must wait until Sunday to continue their bid for a first Scudetto since 2011 but take their tenuous lead to a stadium where they have twice before seen their title aspirations dealt a mortal blow.
Previous title bids by Milan, in 1973 and 1990, were derailed in Verona and they can ill afford another setback there with their neighbours breathing down their necks.
Milan, who hope to have both Alessandro Florenzi and Zlatan Ibrahimovic back in contention for the away trip, did win at Verona last season and, with a run of 13 unbeaten Serie A games, still have their fortunes in their own hands.
“We have to win all of our remaining matches and my team look very focused and motivated to me,” said coach Stefano Pioli.
Inter, despite their shock loss to Bologna just over a week ago, which could yet turn out to be the match which derails their ambitions, should have little trouble against an Empoli side who have won a single game in their last 19 outings.
Admittedly that victory was a surprise 3-2 home triumph over Napoli last month but Inter, strengthened by the return from suspension of Hakan Calhanoglu, are expected to prove too strong.
Last weekend, Napoli and Juventus both made sure of Champions League football next season by ensuring a top-four finish and they now tussle over third place.
Napoli have a one-point advantage but are away at Torino on Saturday while Juventus travel to Genoa on Friday.
Genoa are grimly holding on, in the battle against relegation, and won their last home game against Cagliari but there will be little let-up from Juventus.
“From now to the end of the championship, we need to score as many points as possible,” Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri told a Thursday news conference.
“We also have to prepare for the final of the Coppa Italia and tomorrow we have a match against a team that can save itself. We’ll have to play a good game, so the best team will go out on the field.”
Juventus and Inter contest the cup final in Rome next Wednesday.
(Writing by Mark Gleeson; Editing by Clare Fallon)