- Associated Press - Thursday, January 7, 2016

ROME (AP) - AC Milan coach Sinisa Mihajlovic and Roma counterpart Rudi Garcia are each at risk of losing their jobs entering Saturday’s match at the Stadio Olimpico, which is being labeled as an “elimination game.”

Milan is in crisis again after a 1-0 loss at home to Bologna on Wednesday, which dropped the Rossoneri to seventh place - 10 points below the Champions League spots.

Roma is also full of problems following a 3-3 draw at Chievo Verona in which it squandered a two-goal lead. Having begun the season as a title contender, the Giallorossi are now fifth and still struggling to overcome the psychological blow of a 6-1 rout by Barcelona in the Champions League.

Neither Mihajlovic nor Garcia is giving in, however.

“I’m not going to put a bandage on my head before breaking it,” Mihajlovic said. “I’m focusing on Roma and then we’ll see what happens in the future.”

Mihajlovic pointed out that Milan has been playing without key forwards Jeremy Menez and Mario Balotelli, who have each been out injured.

Balotelli, who has been out since September, is expected back from pelvis surgery next week.

“We’re not scoring enough goals - that’s the problem,” Mihajlovic added, referring to the squad’s 24 goals scored and 22 conceded.

Roma’s problem is that it’s conceding too many goals - with 35 scored and 21 conceded.

“It’s OK,” Garcia said of the three goals conceded to Chievo. “We were coming off four matches where we didn’t concede a goal and we rediscovered our offensive verve. … But clearly these were two points lost and that burns. We need to use this as motivation against Milan.”

At the top of the standings, Inter Milan holds a one-point lead over Fiorentina and Napoli.

Inter hosts Sassuolo this weekend, Fiorentina faces Lazio and Napoli visits promoted Frosinone.

Four-time defending champion Juventus, which has won eight straight and is three points off the lead in fourth, travels to Sampdoria.

Also this weekend, it’s: Carpi vs. Udinese; Atalanta vs. Genoa; Bologna vs. Chievo; Torino vs. Empoli; and Hellas Verona vs. Palermo.

Here are some things to know about Serie A entering this weekend’s matches:



Inter Milan is getting used to winning matches by a single goal.

A win at Empoli on Wednesday was its ninth 1-0 victory this season and the Nerazzurri have won 10 matches in all by a single-goal margin.

Inter has kept clean sheets in 12 of 18 matches and standout forward Mauro Icardi has scored eight goals with 12 attempts on target.

“I would like to see more from my squad. … But the goal is victories and we’ve been able to get those,” Inter coach Roberto Mancini said.



Having started the season in a bench role, Paulo Dybala is now the center of attention at Juventus.

The 22-year-old Argentina international scored with a curling free kick and also provided the cross for another goal in Juve’s 3-0 win over Verona on Wednesday.

Having taken over Andrea Pirlo’s No. 21 shirt, Dybala looked like the Italy midfield maestro with his pin-point free kick - the first time Juventus has scored with a free kick since Pirlo’s effort against Torino in a derby in April.

After joining Juventus from Palermo in a 32 million euro ($34 million) transfer in June, the 22-year-old Dybala has scored nine goals in Serie A and is on pace for one of the best debut seasons in club history.



Furious after a 3-1 loss at home to Fiorentina, Palermo president Maurizio Zamparini reportedly decided to fire Davide Ballardini but then changed his mind.

The decision apparently hinged on a phone call to former coach Giuseppe Iachini, who was fired in November but is still under contract with the Sicilian club.

After Zamparini told Iachini he was considering rehiring him, Iachini reportedly asked for new players in the transfer market. That’s when Zamparini decided to stick with Ballardini.

Palermo is 16th, only three points clear of the relegation zone.

Zamparini has made more than 30 coaching changes in his 13 years as Palermo president.


Andrew Dampf on Twitter: www.twitter.com/asdampf

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