ROME – AC Milan’s bid to close a yawning gap to Serie A pacesetters Juventus, Roma and Napoli faces another reality check in the city derby at Inter on Sunday.
After another inauspicious start to the season, Milan sit mid-table but 24 points adrift of leaders Juventus and, perhaps more worryingly, with a 16-point deficit to Napoli who occupy the final Champions League qualifying spot.
The chances of Milan salvaging a top-three finish at the end of the season look slim – and goalkeeper Christian Abbiati admits a win in the Rossoneri’s last game before the festive break would be welcome.
“The derby is always a spectacular match and we probably need this win a bit more than them at the moment,” Abbiati said Thursday. “We’ll have to defend with all 11 players on Sunday.”
The first Milan derby of the season is one of the high points of the pre-Christmas programme but the San Siro ground shared by both clubs will not be full.
Inter, who sit fifth, 15 points behind Juve and seven behind Napoli, will have their ‘Curva Nord’ section of the stadium closed as punishment after fans were found guilty of chanting ‘discriminatory’ remarks against Napoli fans.
Inter coach Walter Mazzarri admitted to Sky Sport Italia: “I don’t think this will be good for the image of our game.”
Juventus, meanwhile, bounced back from the disappointment of their Champions League exit last week with a 4-2 win over Inter and will look to extend their five-point lead over Roma away at Atalanta.