Milan look to close on Juve with Udinese victory

November 4, 2005
By James Eve

ROME, Nov 4 (Reuters) - AC Milan can go top of Serie A for the first time this season if they win and leaders Juventus lose on Sunday.

Milan host an erratic Udinese at the San Siro after putting a serious dent in Juventus's armour-plated image with a 3-1 win over the Turin team last weekend.

That was their seventh consecutive Serie A victory, narrowing the gap between the clubs to two points with Juve facing a tricky home fixture against fifth-placed Livorno.

Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti has a strong squad at his disposal, particularly at the back, where several key players are ready to return to the starting line-up.

Cafu is ready to return on the right, Alessandro Nesta has recovered from hand surgery to bolster central defence, while Marek Jankulovski, bought from Udinese during the close season, could fill the left back position.

Ancelotti's only serious worry is a heel injury picked up by Andriy Shevchenko during the midweek Champions League defeat by PSV Eindhoven.

Should the Ukrainian fail to recover, Filippo Inzaghi is expected to take his place in attack alongside Alberto Gilardino.

Udinese will have to improve on their shaky early-season form if they are to cause an upset.

Two points in their last three matches have left last season's fourth-placed finishers in the bottom half and they will be without influential midfielder Luis Vidigal, who suffered a hamstring injury during last weekend's 0-0 draw with Palermo.

In the other matches, third-placed Fiorentina continue their bid for a Champions League place with a trip to Ascoli, while Inter coach Roberto Mancini returns to his old stomping ground when his team take on Lazio in Rome.

Inter are fourth, eight points off the lead, and desperately need a win to keep pace with Juventus and Milan.

That will not be easy, however, as a well-organised Lazio are unbeaten at the Olympic Stadium this season.