MILAN - Juventus stalwart Alessandro Del
Piero is creaking towards retirement but the chance to seal one
last slice of personal glory awaits this Saturday at AC Milan.
There could hardly be a bigger stage than the San Siro for
the 35-year-old to become Juve's all-time Serie A top scorer
after equalling Giampiero Boniperti's tally of 178 this month.
Del Piero is far from a guaranteed starter these days but
injuries to Amauri and Vincenzo Iaquinta and Milos Krasic's
suspension for diving look likely to thrust him into the
starting lineup against old rivals the Rossoneri.
"It's an honour to be up there with him," said Del Piero,
joint-10th with 1950's great Boniperti on the all-time Serie A
top scorers list. "It will be a great game against Milan."
For all his achievements in the game including a 1996
Champions League title and 2006 World Cup winners medal, the
ex-Italy forward remains a shy character, whose burning
ambition is only revealed when stomping off the pitch when
"Il Capitano" is already Juve's all-time leading scorer and
appearance holder in all competitions but with his side
rebuilding after a 2006 match-fixing demotion and last term's
seventh place, Boniperti's record is perhaps his last target.
While the scudetto (title) probably looks beyond
fifth-placed Juve in what is possibly Del Piero's final season,
Milan believe that they could seal their first league title
Second behind surprise leaders Lazio after eight games,
Milan have discovered the art of winning when they do not play
especially well -- as seen in Monday's lucky 2-1 win at Napoli.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic offers the guarantee of goals while
fellow new signing Robinho's pace from deep gives the side
much-needed urgency, so much so that Ronaldinho may not start
against Juve even if he recovers from a thigh strain.
Defensively they have a raft of options, with fourth-choice
right back Massimo Oddo supplying the two assists in Naples
amid an injury crisis which would have crippled other teams.
Oddo made his name at Lazio but the Rome club have
struggled to field top players since his 2007 move to Milan --
Striker Sergio Floccari has got over a nightmare spell at
Genoa and new Brazilian Hernanes has added a touch of class in
midfield, which has also rubbed off on Italy's Stefano Mauri.
Sunday's trip to Palermo is one of the toughest
tests yet for Lazio, two points above Milan, even if the
Sicilian side have lost their last two despite the supreme
skill of much-tracked Argentine playmaker Javier Pastore.
Champions Inter Milan, who drew 1-1 with Sampdoria last
Sunday, visit Genoa on Friday with Diego Milito
maybe back from injury to lessen the scoring burden from Samuel
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