Roma prepare for Inter Milan test
Roma head coach Zdenek Zeman is eager to avoid resorting to emergency measures against Inter Milan as Serie A resumes, even if a makeshift defence did yield surprising results this week.
A solitary Mattia Destro goal saw an injury-ravaged Giallorossi side progress to the last four of the Coppa Italia at the expense of Fiorentina - an outcome that came firmly against the odds.
Zeman deviated from his rigid 4-3-3 formation for the first time this season as he decided to counter the absence of Francesco Totti, Pablo Osvaldo, Erik Lamela and Maarten Stekelenburg with an unorthodox 3-4-3 arrangement.
Roma deserved to win regardless, according to Zeman, but he is unwilling to test the unfamiliar tactic for a second time against title-chasing Inter on Sunday.
He told La Repubblica: "I hope not. I don't like playing three at the back, even if we did do well.
"The choice was dictated exclusively by the crisis. I hope I don't have to repeat it or that would mean we are still in trouble.
"We were missing a lot of players but we wanted to play the game. I did what I thought was the best thing given the men I had at my disposal.
"We struggled - that was expected. But the boys got their reward.
"Destro is an important player. He has quality and is a young and upcoming player. He had other chances, so I hope will open up and score more goals."
Inter are seven points shy of Serie A leaders with ex-Roma defender Cristian Chivu urging caution at the Stadio Olimpico.
He said: "We are going to Rome to win this game because it is essential that we do.
"They are a team in good shape but we want to climb as high as possible. Roma are not easy to beat. They attack the spaces and get in behind you.
"They have players who always seem to find the right pass at the right time."
Juventus defender Giorgio Chiellini is unlikely to feature against Udinese as he recovers from a leg injury, but he is all too aware that the Bianconeri need to extend their dwindling lead with a positive result.
Lazio are just three points behind as Juve's failure to win at Parma compounded the Turin giants' poor recent run.
"I have great confidence in my team-mates," he said. "We expect to recover on Saturday."
The Biancocelesti, meanwhile, visit struggling Palermo, who have lost three games in a row and are without a win in six attempts.
Fiorentina hope to get back on track against Napoli after losing two consecutive league games and exiting the Coppa Italia at the hands of Roma.
The Partenopei have had a two-point deduction for alleged involvement in match-fixing overturned on appeal, with defenders Paolo Cannavaro and Gianluca Grava seeing six-month bans quashed, and the club have now joined Lazio in second place.
A reinvigorated AC Milan were denied the chance to climb into the European places last time out after being held to a goalless draw at Sampdoria, with Bologna next up at the San Siro.
The Rossoblu dispatched Chievo, who host Parma, to rise to 14th in the standings and move four points clear of the relegation places.
Genoa bid to leave the bottom three with a win over Catania, but their escape attempt depends on what 17th-placed Cagliari can achieve at Atalanta.
Much-improved Pescara welcome mid-table Torino to the Stadio Adriatico while bottom side Siena face Delio Rossi's Sampdoria in Tuscany.
Information from the Press Association was used in this report