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By ESPN Staff

Udinese and Bologna have a go at the big boys

MILAN, Nov 6 (Reuters) - Udinese's title credentials receive their toughest test yet at Serie A champions Inter Milan when Sinisa Mihajlovic takes charge of Bologna for the first time against fellow strugglers AS Roma (1400 GMT).

Udinese, joint second with Inter and a point behind leaders AC Milan, have threatened the dominance of Italy's big clubs this term.

The modest club from the north-eastern town of Udine, seventh last season under highly rated coach Pasquale Marino, battled back for a 2-2 draw against Genoa last weekend after starting with Italy forward Antonio Di Natale on the bench.

He will miss Thursday's UEFA Cup match in Spartak Moscow with a fever but could return to face Inter on Sunday (1400).

"We will think about Inter on Friday," Marino told reporters, denying he was resting Di Natale for the Inter game.

Jose Mourinho's Inter are on a patchy run, with a dreadful defensive display from Nicolas Burdisso on Tuesday leading to a 3-3 Champions League draw at Anorthosis Famagusta.

They have drawn two of their last three league games and beat Reggina 3-2 on Saturday only through a stoppage time goal.

Burdisso could pay the price for Tuesday's calamities and be dropped for the Udinese clash while striker Adriano is hoping to be included having been left out recently for indiscipline.

At the other end, Bologna host Roma on Saturday (1930) with the two sides on the back of vastly contrasting results.

Second to bottom Bologna lost 5-1 at Cagliari last Sunday which prompted coach Daniele Arrigoni's sacking and the appointment of Serbia's former Inter assistant manager Sinisa Mihajlovic.

Roma, last season's runners-up, lost 2-0 at Juventus last weekend to lie a point above the drop zone but Tuesday's stunning 3-1 win over Chelsea in the Champions League with a new 4-4-2 formation has boosted their confidence.

"Now the team can liberate itself and play proper football," Roma coach Luciano Spalletti told reporters.

But Mihajlovic, who won the 2000 scudetto with Roma's city rivals Lazio, was renowned as an ultra-hard competitor while a player and he will look to put the same steel in his new team.

In other standout matches, Milan travel to Lecce in Sunday's late game (1930) and Juventus, buoyed by the 2-0 win at Real Madrid which put them into the Champions League last 16, go to coach Domenico Di Carlo's new club Chievo (1400).


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