Luca Toni counting on help from Fiorentina

Luca Toni has been barraging his former teammates at Fiorentina

with text messages all week. The AS Roma forward is hoping his

former team can beat Inter Milan on Saturday, which would give his

current club the Serie A lead if Roma beats Atalanta a day later.

Inter holds a one-point lead over Roma with six games

remaining. AC Milan, which is only three points back, hosts

Catania.

Toni scored 47 goals for Fiorentina over two seasons before

departing for Bayern Munich in May 2007, then left the German club

on a loan deal to Roma in January and scored the winner when Roma

beat Inter 2-1 two weeks ago.

Fiorentina has had a troublesome season marked by injuries

and a doping suspension for Adrian Mutu and lies in eighth place,

six points out of the final Champions League berth.

Fiorentina will also face Inter in the second leg of the

Italian Cup semifinals on Tuesday, and the Tuscan side is hoping

that Inter is tired after qualifying for the last four of the

Champions League with a midweek win over CSKA Moscow.

“Inter is the best Italian team, and they’ve also showed that

in the Champions League,” Fiorentina playmaker Stevan Jovetic said.

“But we’ll have our fans behind us and that should motivate us.”

Inter needed a late penalty to beat Fiorentina 1-0 at the San

Siro in November, although the team has transformed itself since

then, reeling off five consecutive wins in Europe and maintaining a

slim lead in Serie A.

Roma has improved even more drastically, going 22 matches

without a loss after a tumultuous start to the season that resulted

in Claudio Ranieri taking over for Luciano Spalletti after just two

games.

Roma captain Francesco Totti has returned to the lineup after

a series of injuries, joining a potent attack with Toni and Mirko

Vucinic.

“It’s going to be a game of nerves right down to the end,”

Ranieri said. “Only Inter can lose the championship. We’ve got to

play every game as if it’s our last and hope they slip up at some

point.”

Milan faces a Catania side coming off a 2-0 win over Palermo

in a Sicilian derby.

Milan forward Marco Borriello has returned from an ankle

problem, although now Klaas-Jan Huntelaar has a similar injury and

Filippo Inzaghi has a bruised foot.

Despite injuries to Alessandro Nesta, Kakha Kaladze, Daniele

Bonera and Oguchi Onyewu, Milan has managed to piece together a

solid defense led by Thiago Silva, who trails only midfield

standout Andrea Pirlo for minutes played on the Rossoneri squad.

Thiago Silva is currently pairing in central defense with

Giuseppe Favalli, who stepped in when Nesta was lost to knee

surgery.

“Nesta’s a great player. He helped me a lot and now I miss

him a little. But Favalli has had some great games. He’s 38 years

old and he seems like a kid,” Thiago Silva said. “I came to Milan

to win and I still think we can win the title. We’ve got six games

left and we’ve got to remain focused.”

Struggling Juventus could get a boost if goalkeeper Gianlugi

Buffon returns from a thigh injury against Cagliari, amid

speculation that the Turin side could sell the Italy starter to

Manchester City after the season to begin the club’s overhaul.

Also this weekend, Sampdoria meets Genoa in a derby and

Palermo hosts Chievo Verona as it seeks to hold onto fourth place.

Also, it’s: Napoli vs. Parma; Bologna vs. Lazio; Livorno vs.

Udinese; and Siena vs. Bari.