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Serie A heavyweights head-to-head

50-50 Challenge 2 days ago
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By ESPN Staff
Feb 23, 2012

Buffon undaunted by Milan clash

Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon believes defending champions AC Milan are the team to beat but insists his side will not go down without a fight this weekend.

The Turin giants go into Saturday's top Serie A game against league leaders Milan at the Giuseppe Meazza stadium as the only unbeaten team in Italy.

Juventus, coached by Antonio Conte, are one point behind Milan but have a game in hand.

"Milan is the strongest team in the tournament,'' Buffon told the club's official website. "But we will not play the role of victims. The fact that we have beaten them twice this season means that we have earned their respect.''

Juventus edged AC Milan 2-1 in the Tim Trophy in pre-season before beating the Rossoneri 2-0 in the league in Turin back in October.

Milan will be hoping to have the team's leading scorer Zlatan Ibrahimovic available for the encounter. The Swedish striker will find out in the next 24 hours if his appeal to overturn his third and final match ban will be successful.

Udinese are third in the standings and travel to Bologna on Sunday without Serie A's top scorer Antonio Di Natale. The absence of Di Natale, who is out with a foot injury, has affected the Friuli outfit, which has taken one point in its last three games.

Lazio are level on 42 points with Udinese but go into Sunday's game against Fiorentina with the future of coach Edy Reja up in the air.

Reja handed in his resignation on Wednesday following last weekend's 5-1 loss at Palermo only for the club to turn it down.

A defeat at Napoli on Sunday could prove costly for Inter Milan coach Claudio Ranieri.

Ranieri is under pressure after Wednesday's 1-0 defeat at Olympique Marseille in the Champions League marked Inter's fourth straight loss and extended their winless run to seven games in all competitions. Inter are seventh, one point behind Napoli.

Napoli, meanwhile, go into the encounter at the San Paolo stadium sky high following Tuesday's 3-1 home triumph over Chelsea in the Champions League.

Fifth-place Roma will be without suspended captain Francesco Totti when they take on Atalanta in Bergamo looking for their first win on the road since December 21.

Palermo thrashed Lazio 5-1 last weekend and coach Bortolo Mutti will hope that result will help his side claim its first win away from home this season at Siena on Sunday.

A win at Cagliari could see Lecce climb out of the relegation zone provided Siena fall to Palermo.

Lecce are riding a three-match unbeaten run and are two points below Siena, who hold the last safety position.

Genoa have lost their last three league games and their dismal run of form has seen them drop to 12th in the standings, two points clear of Sunday's rivals Parma.

Catania remain unbeaten at home since December and host relegation-threatened Novara on Sunday.

Mario Beretta will make his coaching debut with Cesena at Chievo this weekend. Beretta replaced sacked Daniele Arrigoni after Sunday's 3-1 defeat to AC Milan.

Cesena have mustered one point from their last five games and lie at the foot of the standings, seven points off safety.

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