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Serie A heavyweights head-to-head

50-50 Challenge 2 days ago
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By ESPN Staff
Oct 2, 2008

Zarate gets top billing for leaders Lazio

ROME, Oct 2 (Reuters) - Mauro Zarate gets another chance to outshine Serie A's top names when surprise leaders Lazio entertain Lecce on Saturday.

The 21-year-old Argentine's arrival on loan from Qatari club Al-Sadd hardly registered outside the sky blue side of Rome in the close season as the Italian media busied itself with bigger deals.

Yet, while players like AC Milan's Andriy Shevchenko, Juventus's Alessandro Del Piero and Inter Milan's Adriano are still looking for a first league goal, Zarate has scored six times to help Lazio win four of their first five games.

The Argentine has won praise for his pace, venomous long-range shooting and the excellent understanding he has found with Macedonia strike partner Goran Pandev, who has scored four Serie A goals so far this season.

"Lazio are putting on a beautiful show of play, skill and results," former Italy and AC Milan coach Arrigo Sacchi wrote in La Gazzetta dello Sport this week.

"Total football is their dogma, Zarate and Pandev their prophets."

The great start has fuelled Zarate's ambitions for himself and for his new team, which was assembled at a fraction of the cost of the sides expected to challenge for the title.

"We have realised that we have a squad that can fight all the way," Zarate, who had a loan stint in the Premier League with relegated Birmingham City last season, was quoted as saying by Gazzetta.

After losing 1-0 to AC Milan in the derby and drawing 1-1 with Werder Bremen in the Champions League, title-holders Inter Milan have the ideal chance to get back to winning ways when they host Bologna later on Saturday (1830).

The promoted visitors have lost four games since beating AC Milan 2-1 at the San Siro on the opening day.

Milan, who take a 3-1 advantage to the second leg of their UEFA Cup first-round tie at FC Zurich on Thursday, will be confident of securing their fourth consecutive league victory at pointless bottom club Cagliari on Sunday (1830).

Juventus, who are level with Milan on nine points, three behind Lazio and one behind Inter, welcome Palermo to Turin on Sunday after three draws in all competitions.

Napoli, who are one point behind Lazio in second, visit Genoa while last year's runners-up AS Roma travel to Siena.

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