Leaders Milan aim to avoid travel sickness

ROME: League leaders AC Milan must end Bologna’s flawless home record tomorrow if they are to avoid a third defeat on the road and maintain this season’s quest for a 17th Italian championship. 

Bologna have chalked up an impressive seven wins in a row at the Renato Dall’Ara Stadium in Emilia Romagna, scoring 14 goals and conceding just three. 

Milan are equally formidable on home soil with seven wins and a draw, but away from fortress San Siro the ‘Rossoneri’ have shown a chink in their star-studded armour. 

Precious points were dropped in 1-1 draws at Empoli and Lazio, while narrow defeats at Chievo and Juventus raised serious doubts about Milan’s title ammunition. 

Bologna’s colourful goalkeeper Gianluca Pagliuca, who in his five years at Inter was never on the losing side against Milan, believes he can maintain that record despite the rival’s current arsenal of strikers. 

“Milan? They are out of this world. Stronger than Inter and possibly Juventus,” said Pagliuca, who kept goal for Italy in the 1994 World Cup final in the US where they lost on penalties to Brazil. 

“But we are a group of players with great quality and big hearts. We know that a win for us is not impossible.” 

Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti insists the forward-thinking Manuel Rui Costa, Rivaldo, Andrea Pirlo, Fernando Redondo, Andriy Shevchenko and Pippo Inzaghi can all play together in the same line-up. But he has admitted that to unleash all his offensive players against an intelligent Bologna side would be a mistake. 

“This idea is not adaptable against a team like Bologna,” said the 43-year-old former Juventus player. “It would be suicidal.” 

Former Argentine international Redondo is close to full fitness following two and a half years on the sidelines and could get his first ever Serie A start.  

World Cup winner Rivaldo is still nursing a muscular problem and could be rested while compatriot Serginho and Danish striker Jon Dahl Tomasson are carrying minor knocks. 

Bologna’s Guiseppe Signori and Giulio Falcone are still on the treatment table with injuries, so Claudio Bellucci and Tomas Locatelli will play alongside giant South American striker Julio Cruz in attack. Paolo Vanoli steps in for the suspended Carlo Nervo. 

Inter, who are second in the table behind Milan on goal difference alone, will fancy their chances at home to Modena tomorrow. 

Hector Cuper’s men have dropped just four out of a possible 21 points at the San Siro, while Modena have lost five times away from home this season, conceding 14 goals. 

Inter are expected to welcome back Italy’s leading goalscorer Christian Vieri, who has recovered from a hamstring injury. The former Lazio and Juventus marksman has netted 12 times for the ‘Nerazzurri’ this season. 

Cash-strapped Lazio, currently in third place a point behind the joint leaders, will be seeking to put their money worries behind them by maintaining their 100 per cent away record at Brescia today. 

Coach Roberto Mancini is still without Yugoslav hardman Sinisa Mihajlovic who is nursing an injury to his right thigh. 

Fifth-placed title-holders Juventus, who are four points adrift of the two Milan clubs, welcome Reggina to the Stadio Delle Alpi tomorrow. 

2001 champions Roma hope to have new signing Olivier Dacourt available for their home clash against Chievo. The ‘flying donkeys’ of Verona, who continue to defy all expectations, are fourth in the table. – AFP  

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