Milan - The battle for a Champions League place should add extra spice to Saturday's meeting of old rivals AS Roma and Napoli, yet the build up to the game suggests it could be played in a lukewarm atmosphere.
Both teams have suffered a recent slip in form and
this, combined with a Saturday lunchtime kickoff and the fears of fan
violence surrounding the fixture, is expected to leave the Stadio
Olimpico half empty.
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grip on second place has been slowly loosened since the start of the
year, and their nine-point cushion over third place has been slashed to
one point, while they have dropped 14 points behind runaway leaders
Meanwhile, Napoli have dropped from third to fifth after failing to win any of their last four Serie A games.
the top two in Serie A qualify directly for the Champions League group
stage while third place earns a place in the final qualifying round.
have drawn eight of their last 11 league games and even the
international break added to the troubles as forward Gervinho suffered a
thigh injury in Ivory Coast's friendly against Equatorial Guinea on
The hosts may also be without talismanic forward Francesco Totti who is still recovering from a thigh injury.
much is at stake, Roma's disappointing recent form and the early
kickoff could result in the match being played in a half-empty Stadio
Local media said that only 5,000 tickets have been sold
so far and predicted a crowd of around 40,000, around half the stadium's
There is still tension around the fixture after Napoli's visit to Rome for last season's Coppa Italia final.
Napoli were facing Fiorentina, there were violent clashes between
Napoli and Roma fans, during which Napoli fan Ciro Esposito was shot and
died in hospital one month later.
Tickets will not be sold to residents of Naples, although Napoli fans who live elsewhere in Italy can buy them.
points separate Roma (53) in second from Fiorentina (46) in sixth in
the race for Champions League places, with Lazio (52), Sampdoria (48)
and Napoli (47) sandwiched between.
In another key match on
Saturday, Sampdoria coach Sinisa Mihajlovic returns to his former club
as his side visit Fiorentina (1630).
Fiorentina have found a new
lease of life since signing Egypt forward Mohamed Salah from Chelsea in
part exchange for Juan Cuadrado.
Lazio, who have leapt into third
place with a run of six straight wins, visit relegation candidates
Cagliari in a match they would expect to win (1300).
in front of us certainly gives us extra motivation," said captain
Stefano Mauri. "For us, finishing second would be like winning the
Juventus, meanwhile, should chalk up another win, and
move closer to a fourth successive title, when they host Empoli