Serie A Preview: Milan v Roma
By Football News
Milan welcome Roma to San Siro on Sunday knowing they will guarantee a place in next season's UEFA Champions League with a victory.
Massimiliano Allegri's men are on the brink of securing a place in the top three following their 4-0 win over relegated Pescara on Wednesday.
Mario Balotelli hit a double for Milan in that triumph, making it 11 goals in 11 games for the former Manchester City forward since his January move to Milan.
Allegri will look to Balotelli to deliver the goods again, however, the hosts are likely to face a difficult task against Roma, who possess one of the better away records in Serie A and earned a 1-0 win over Fiorentina in their last trip away from the Stadio Olimpico.
Fiorentina are Milan's closest challengers in the battle for the final UEFA Champions League spot, and the San Siro outfit will be without midfielders Ricardo Montolivo and Nigel de Jong in addition to defender Luca Antonini and forward Bojan Krkic.
In spite of those notable absentees, confidence should be high in the home ranks, Milan have won 10 of their last 11 Serie A matches and will be boosted by Roma's 1-0 home defeat to mid-table Chievo in their midweek clash.
Aurelio Andreazzoli's side are fighting with Udinese and city rivals Lazio for a place in the fifth and final UEFA Europa League position, but know they can still qualify for Europe if they defeat their neighbours in the Coppa Italia final later this month.
The cup may be their best hope of securing continental football next term, as they face a difficult clash with Napoli on the final day of the season following the trip to Milan.
Andreazzoli's men have won four of their last six league games, and with goalkeeper Martin Stekelenburg their only injury concern, they can have hope of wrapping up a league double after Erik Lamela inspired them to a 4-2 home win over Milan back in December.
The visitors will be looking for top scorer Pablo Osvaldo to add to his 16-goal tally on Sunday, however, Milan have both the momentum and home advantage and their fans will no doubt harbour high expectations as they aim to clinch their spot in the Champions League for another season.