AC Milan hoping to close gap further

BY foxsports • February 25, 2010

AC Milan will be doing its utmost to maintain the pressure on Serie A league leader Inter Milan when it takes on Atalanta at the weekend.

Leonardo's side is four points behind its city rival in second place, though needed a last minute goal from Alexandre Pato to earn a midweek win over Fiorentina.

"Even though we won and closed the gap to four points, we have to take things match by match," defender Ignazio Abate said. "We are only thinking about what we have to do and this victory is a step forward."

It means Milan has now won three league games in a row and allowed the team to put its run of four matches without a victory behind it.

"We can't repeat what happened at home against Livorno (1-1) or against Bologna (0-0)," Abate said. "We can't throw away all the positive work we've done this week against Bari or Fiorentina."

Inter has drawn its three last league matches to allow Milan and AS Roma to close the gap, but will be buoyed by a Champions League win over Chelsea on Wednesday.

"Milan may be four points behind us," striker Diego Milito said, "but we have to think about playing our own game."

Jose Mourinho's team travels to meet Udinese, which has been struggling near the foot of the table and recently brought back Pasquale Marino as coach after replacing him with Gianni De Biasi midway through the season.

Udinese also boasts the league's leading scorer, Antonio Di Natale, who hit his 18th goal this season in Udinese' 2-1 win over Cagliari in midweek.

"It was an uphill struggle and thankfully we did well," Marino said. "When you are coming off a long period of bad results morale becomes low and it becomes even harder to come back from a goal down. I was worried that the guys would fall apart when we went behind, but they reacted well."

Juventus was rocked this week by news that goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon would be out of action for a month with a thigh injury. However, the side has been boosted by the return to action of Alessandro Del Piero.

Two weeks ago Del Piero won and then scored the penalty that gave new coach Alberto Zaccheroni his first win as Juventus coach and in the lastest round of matches he set up Andrea Candreva to score the winner against Bologna.

"Alessandro is world class, that is of no doubt," defender Giorgio Chiellini said. "He has always shown that and this year is no different. It is no conincidence that we improve when certain players come back into the team.

"Everyone felt his absence," Chiellini said, "and when he is in the team, everybody's performance improves."

Also this weekend, it is; Catania vs. Bari; Lazio vs. Fiorentina; Chievo Verona vs. Cagliari; Genoa vs. Bologna; Livorno vs. Siena; Napoli vs. AS Roma and Parma vs. Sampdoria.

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