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Serie A Preview: Milan v Catania
Apr 26, 2013 4:07 PM EST
Milan will hope to keep their bid for UEFA Champions League qualification on track against Catania on Sunday.
Massimiliano Allegri's team are locked in an intense battle with Fiorentina for third place and have a one-point lead going into the 34th game of the season.
Milan will undoubtedly be thankful to face mid-table opposition this weekend having encountered Serie A's top three in their last three games.
They earned draws from the first two games of that tricky triple-header against Fiorentina and Napoli respectively, but suffered a demoralising 1-0 defeat to Juventus last time out.
The San Siro outfit are now looking to avoid going four league fixtures without a win for the first time this season. They will be helped in that quest by the return of Mario Balotelli, with the Italy international having completed a two-match spell on the sidelines through suspension.
"Mario is world class," goalkeeper Marco Amelia said ahead of Balotelli's return. "He is above average, and it is great to have him here and now to have him back for crucial games.
"We are still ahead of Fiorentina and we will try to defend our third place because we owe it to ourselves, especially after the start we had this season.
"We have to return to winning ways against Catania on Sunday, we have to show desire in order to take home all three points and keep Fiorentina at a safe distance."
Catania, meanwhile, have little to play for but pride as they sit in ninth place with little prospect of a late dash for European football. The Sicilian club have won just one of their last seven fixtures, but boast the fourth-meanest defence in the league. However, their backline will be weakened by the absence of goalkeeper Mariano Andujar, who is suspended after receiving a red card against Palermo. Andujar has played more minutes for Catania than any of his team-mates this season.