Straight from the dark heart of Italy
Football fatigue could be the undoing of some of Serie A’s Euro-trippers this weekend.
Juventus, Inter, Roma, Fiorentina, AC Milan, not to mention Udinese and Sampdoria are feeling the strain to varying degrees following their Champions League and UEFA Cup bouts on fields near and far.
Worst off are Juve who face a bit of rough and tumble in the Turin derby.
They lost the talented Claudio Marchisico to a twisted ankle against Real Madrid, and with Christian Poulsen already out with a dodgy knee and Cristiano Zanetti no nearer to a return, Mohamed Sissoko is the only genuine central midfielder available to Claudio Ranieri.
Toro will be pawing the ground to get amongst their bitter rivals but with neither side seemingly capable of defending, a high-scoring draw could well be on the cards.
Roma’s cause at Udinese has not been helped by news that Alberto Aquilani will be out for at least two weeks with a thigh strain – although on the flip side Francesco Totti’s knee looks to be holding up.
However, high-flying Udinese came out unscathed in their routine win over Tottenham, although Pasquale Marino’s limited squad numbers means that the majority of Thursday’s starting XI will be in action again come Sunday.
No such worries for Jose Mourinho, who blamed the massive carbon footprint his internationals created last week for his side’s bumpy passage past Anorthosis Famagusta.
The Nerazzurri created a hatful of chances but could only score once against the Cypriots – and this after knocking four past Roma last weekend.
After seeing Esteban Cambiasso limp off with a thigh problem on Wednesday and thus sit out the visit of Genoa, the Portuguese lamented: “All that travelling takes its toll and when I ask the players if they are fit to play, of course, they say ‘yes’.”
However, Mourinho wouldn’t swap places with Milan who can afford to rest most of their stars in the UEFA Cup. But, of course, Filippo Inzaghi wouldn’t be Filippo Inzaghi if he didn’t feel some sort of twinge.
And so it was in the win at Heereveen. The veteran took his career goal-tally in all European competitions to 64 but will probably put his feet up at the weekend after hobbling on to the plane back to Italy.
"My legs, MY LEGS! I CANNOT FEEL MY LEGS!"
Fiorentina’s Massimo Gobbi is another feeling his creaking muscles as the midfielder lasted only 16 minutes in the 3-0 defeat at Bayern Munich.
Even those not involved in competitive action were not immune: Lazio’s Tommaso Rocchi limped out of a training game with a thigh problem and could be set for another long period on the sidelines.
The striker had just come back to action last weekend after fracturing a foot at the Olympic Games.
With Lazio and Napoli set to take points off each other, the top of the table could be set to have an even more familiar look to it.
Inter should be a certainty to overcome Genoa who suffer from a case of agoraphobia whenever they are forced to venture away from the confines of their Marassi stadium.
A big fat zero in the away-wins column so far this season and the fact they have only won four times at the San Siro against the champions does not bode well.
The pressure will therefore be on the chasing pack to keep up with Mourinho’s travelling band of merry men.
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