Rivals aim to put pressure on injury hit Inter

December 13, 2007

MILAN, Dec 13 (Reuters) - AS Roma and Juventus have the chance to close the gap on injury-hit leaders Inter Milan this weekend - at least for a few hours.

Third-placed Juve, eight points behind Inter in Serie A, visit midtable Lazio on Saturday (1930 GMT) hoping to pile on the misery after the Rome club were dumped out of the Champions League by Real Madrid in midweek.

However, despite an impressive return to the top flight after last season's demotion for match-fixing, Juve have won only once away from Turin this term. The Turin side are also without winger Mauro Camoranesi, out until January with a thigh problem.

AS Roma, in second, travel to Torino on Sunday (1400 GMT) before Inter also have an away game at bottom side Cagliari in the day's late game (1930 GMT).

Roma's talismanic Francesco Totti is now fully fit after over a month out with a foot injury and managed 90 minutes against Manchester United in the 1-1 Champions League draw on Wednesday.

After the trouble that marred both quarter-final ties between the two teams last season, there were more clashes among rival supporters. Five United fans and one Roma supporter were stabbed before kickoff, the ANSA news agency reported.

The incidents follow a number of violent episodes surrounding Italian soccer in recent months with authorities severely restricting away travel to clamp down on the problem.

Inter are more worried about who they have on the pitch than in the stands after fielding a weakened side in the Champions League game at PSV Eindhoven on Wednesday.

The Italian champions were already through to the knockout stages so would have made changes anyway, although options remain limited in midfield with Patrick Vieira, Luis Figo, Olivier Dacourt, Luis Jimenez and Dejan Stankovic all injured.

On the plus side for Inter, defender Marco Materazzi started against PSV after recovering from a long-term thigh layoff.

Cagliari are also in dire straits at the bottom with media reports saying new coach Nedo Sonetti could be forced out despite only being appointed in mid November.

Midtable AC Milan do not play this weekend because they are in Japan at the Club World Cup.