Big three in Italy hoping to finish 2009 with wins

BY foxsports • December 17, 2009

The top three teams in Italy will be looking to bounce back from disappointing results last week when they play their final Serie A matches of 2009.

Defending champion Inter Milan leads the league with 36 points, five ahead of AC Milan. Juventus is third with 30 points.

Inter, which drew 1-1 at Atalanta last Sunday, play Lazio at home and want to turn the spotlight back to on-field matters following two weeks in which coach Jose Mourinho has dominated the headlines.

Mourinho was sent to the stands during Inter's 2-1 loss to Juventus at the start of December.

"After the sending-off, I decided not to speak to anyone," Mourinho said. "And for someone like me who says what he thinks, to not speak is a little strange."

Lazio has had a poor start to the season and sits three points above the relegation zone in 15th place. Coach Davide Ballardini has managed to hang on to his job but the team needs to improve its form.

"The end of 2009 has been horrible, disastrous," Lazio striker Mauro Zarate said. "In 2010 we shall see a different Lazio. I don't want to hear talk about Serie B. I want to tell the fans to stay calm and trust us."

Milan travels to Fiorentina following a 2-0 loss at home to Palermo. The defeat ended an unbeaten run in the league that stretched back to the end of September.

"At the moment the team is doing well, apart from the last loss to Palermo," Milan defender Kakha Kaladze said. "It is never pleasant to lose at home, especially 2-0. But despite that, it is a good time for us.

"We are second in the table and at the start of the season no one would have thought we would be there."

Juventus' morale has been damaged since that win against Inter. The team was knocked out of the Champions League after losing 4-1 to Bayern Munich and then it lost 3-1 to Bari last Saturday.

Diego missed a penalty against Bari and the Brazilian is being blamed for Juventus' problems, along with Felipe Melo. Defender Giorgio Chiellini believes the whole team needs to take responsibility.

"We need to find some momentum because in the past few months after every great match we have played badly," Chiellini said. "There are too many ups and downs and it is difficult to understand why.

"Compared to last year, there has been a generational change. New players have arrived and it is not easy for them to fit in straightaway. In defense we lack familiarity, but that is the entire team's fault, not just the four defenders."

Also, it's: Bologna vs. Atalanta; Genoa vs. Bari; Livorno vs. Sampdoria; Napoli vs. Chievo Verona; Palermo vs. Siena; AS Roma vs. Parma; and Udinese vs. Cagliari.

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