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By ESPN Staff

Italy prepares for the 'match of the year'

Roma coach Claudio Ranieri is thrilled with the way his troops are playing ahead of Saturday's "match of the year" against title rivals Inter Milan.

The Giallorossi will go into the match against the league leaders at a sold-out Stadio Olimpico trailing by four points.

Wednesday's 2-0 triumph at Bologna lifted Roma level on 59 points with second-place AC Milan.

"It's beautiful to see Roma playing the match of the year with eight games remaining," Ranieri said. "This means my men have worked very well. It will be a wonderful game. We hope we can celebrate at the end."

Roma held Inter to a 1-1 draw at the San Siro earlier this season but Ranieri knows it will take a monumental effort from his team to beat Jose Mourinho's side.

The Nerazzurri go into the game on the back of a 3-0 midweek triumph over Livorno, a result that ended a three-match winless streak.

"Inter have been a superpower in recent years but we are ready," Ranieri said. "We are not giving up.

"My team is in good health and, on Saturday, we must play a superb game against a stellar side.

"This game means so much more for us considering that no one could have imagined after our results earlier in the season that we would be in this position now."

AC Milan, meanwhile, host Lazio on Sunday still smarting from their 1-0 loss at Parma in midweek that followed their 1-1 draw to Napoli.

The Rossoneri will be without suspended pair Ronaldinho and Andrea Pirlo as well as injured striker Alexandre Pato.

Palermo will be looking to strengthen their grip on fourth place - the last Champions League qualifying spot - when they host Bologna. The Sicilian giants are unbeaten at La Favorita and hold a one-point advantage over Sampdoria.

Samp will take on strugglers Cagliari knowing that, if results go their way, they will leapfrog Palermo into the vital fourth position.

Juventus, who have a game in hand, will be under pressure to deliver when Atalanta come to town on Sunday. The Bianconeri play away at Napoli on Thursday.

Juve lost against Palermo and drew against lowly Siena in their previous two games in Turin. Another setback for the Turin outfit would benefit European hopefuls Genoa and Napoli.

Genoa are in seventh, one point behind Napoli, and make the journey to Tuscany to face Siena looking for their first win away from home since November 22. Napoli, meanwhile, will host Catania.

Mid-table Fiorentina have not given up hope of playing in Europe next season. They go into this weekend's game against Udinese trailing sixth-place Juventus by four points.

Rock-bottom Livorno host Bari needing a positive result to keep their Serie A hopes alive.

The Amaranto have lost six of their last seven games and head into this weekend's encounter eight points behind Udinese, who hold the last position of safety.

In the other match this weekend, a win against Parma would see Chievo reach the magic 40-point survival threshold - a figure that nearly always guarantees top-flight football for the following campaign.

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