- Associated Press - Thursday, May 1, 2014

ROME (AP) - With the Italian Cup final, the Milan derby and Juventus likely clinching Serie A, it’s going to be a hectic extended weekend of football in Italy.

It starts with Napoli facing Fiorentina in the Cup final Saturday in Rome. The Milan derby is Sunday and Juve can clinch either Sunday if Roma fails to win at Catania, or Monday with a victory over Atalanta.

Here are five things to know about this weekend’s matches:


CUP FINAL: It’s going to be an emotional match for Fiorentina coach Vincenzo Montella, who was born and raised in the Naples area.

But there’s no time for distractions with Fiorentina chasing its first Cup title since 2001.

Napoli last won in 2012 when it beat Juventus in the final.

Both sides have significant injury worries.

Napoli is hoping standout forward Gonzalo Higuain can play despite a right leg problem that saw him stretchered off last week and Fiorentina forward Giuseppe Rossi could be available from the bench for his first action since his latest knee injury in January.

Fiorentina is without key attacking midfielder Juan Cuadrado, who is suspended.

On Friday, both squads have an audience scheduled with Pope Francis.


MILAN DERBY: With both Inter and AC Milan still attempting to secure Europa League spots, it should be a tense derby.

Milan coach Clarence Seedorf remains surrounded by speculation over his future, even though Milan has won five of its last six matches.

While Seedorf signed a 2 1/2-year contract when he replaced Massimiliano Allegri in January, Milan youth coach Filippo Inzaghi is being touted as a replacement option for next season.

Attention on Inter has focused on the club’s balance sheets amid speculation that it has run afoul of UEFA’s financial fair play rules.


WAR OF WORDS: Juventus holds an eight-point lead over Roma with three matches to play and the two remaining title contenders face each other in the penultimate round.

But odds are Juventus will wrap things up Monday.

Still, Roma coach Rudi Garcia has kept things interesting by accusing Juventus’ opponents of not playing hard enough in recent weeks.

Juventus manager Antonio Conte responded by saying that Garcia’s comments were better suited for a bar and were “provincial.”


18 TEAMS? Italian Players Association president Damiano Tommasi is pushing to reduce Serie A from 20 to 18 clubs.

“It has support from our side if accompanied by solidarity from the clubs,” Tommasi said. “It would provide more economic guarantees and also reduce the number of matches.”

Serie A president Maurizio Beretta said Tommasi’s statement was a positive development and that discussions will be held.

Serie A expanded from 18 to 20 clubs in 2003-04.


CIRO’S DESTINY: With 21 goals in 31 matches - and none from the penalty spot - Torino forward Ciro Immobile leads the Serie A scoring charts and is being mentioned for both Italy’s World Cup squad and other clubs.

“I think the best thing for Torino and for the lad is that Immobile stays another year with us, so he can establish himself definitively,” Torino president Urbano Cairo said.

Cairo also promoted Immobile’s World Cup chances.

“Scoring 21 goals all in action is incredible,” Cairo said.

The contract for the 24-year-old Immobile is co-owned by Juventus.

Immobile’s strike partner Alessio Cerci is also being touted for the World Cup squad.

Copyright © 2016 The Washington Times, LLC.

blog comments powered by Disqus


Click to Read More

Click to Hide