MILAN - Lazio, whose introduction of a
flying eagle before kick-off has coincided with them soaring to
the top of Serie A, have the perfect chance to maintain their
advantage with a home game against Cagliari on Sunday.
While the Romans do battle with the stuttering Sardinians,
second-placed AC Milan face a difficult trip to Napoli in fourth
in a new Monday night game for the Italian top flight.
Lazio, last champions in 2000 and relegation candidates last
season, will hope that their rivals cancel each other out at the
San Paolo and that third-placed Inter Milan come a cropper at
home to unpredictable Sampdoria on Sunday.
However, 16 points from seven games and a two-point lead at
the top is already beyond Lazio's wildest dreams and their
collection of journeymen and shrewd signings are keeping their
feet firmly on the ground - unlike the club eagle.
"Too few games have been played to say where we can go and
we know full well that teams like Inter, Milan and Juventus are
at a higher level and are used to fighting for certain
objectives," defender Giuseppe Biava told reporters.
"We are trying to get as many points as possible and if in
the spring we are still up there, we will try to play our part.
But right now after every game, maybe for good luck, we count
the points we need to avoid relegation."
Biava is a good example of how wily coach Edy Reja has
turned a defender who failed to make much of an impact at
Palermo and Genoa into a rock.
The eagle, the club symbol who flies around the Stadio
Olimpico like Benfica's famous bird, is not the only new
addition this season with Brazilian Hernanes expertly pulling
the strings in midfield after arriving from Sao Paulo.
Fiorentina, a club with similar status to Lazio, are having
a very different season to their peers.
Sinisa Mihajlovic's injury-ravaged side are surprisingly
bottom on five points and the spotlight will be on Florence when
they host Bari in Saturday's only Serie A match.
Striker Adrian Mutu is set to return from a drugs ban at the
end of the month and the day cannot come soon enough for
Fifth-placed Juventus, improving markedly, visit strugglers
Bologna on Sunday.
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