- Associated Press - Thursday, March 3, 2016

ROME (AP) - Despite opening up a three-point lead in Serie A, Juventus is in no mood to celebrate.

That’s because the Bianconeri are still riled up over their performance in the Italian Cup semifinals against Inter Milan.

Juventus conceded three goals to let Inter erase a 3-0 first-leg deficit before going on to reach the final by winning a penalty shootout Wednesday.

“The only positive note was reaching the final,” said defender Leonardo Bonucci, who converted the decisive spot kick for Juventus. “But the match was a complete mess on our part.”

Only a few days earlier, Juventus comfortably beat Inter 2-0 in the league, then was helped by second-place Napoli’s draw at Fiorentina on Monday.

This weekend, Napoli hosts mid-table Chievo Verona on Saturday and Juventus visits mid-table Atalanta on Sunday.

The weekend’s biggest match comes Friday with Roma facing Fiorentina in a showdown for third place and the final Champions League berth. While Roma is ahead in the standings, the teams are level on points.

Roma has won six straight under new coach Luciano Spalletti.

Also this weekend, it’s: Hellas Verona vs. Sampdoria; Torino vs. Lazio; Bologna vs. Carpi; Frosinone vs. Udinese; Genoa vs. Empoli; Sassuolo vs. AC Milan; and Inter Milan vs. Palermo.

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



AC Milan will be without M’Baye Niang for several weeks after the striker injured his left ankle and shoulder in a late-night auto accident.

Milan is on a nine-match unbeaten streak and playing its best football of the season.

Possible replacements for Niang alongside Carlos Bacca in Milan’s attack include Jeremy Menez, Mario Balotelli and Luiz Adriano - but none of them are an ideal solution.

Menez only recently returned form after 10 months out injured, Balotelli has been a sore point all season for Milan coach Sinisa Mihajlovic, and Adriano has also just returned from a month out.



With four goals and an assist in five appearances at Roma, Stephen El Shaarawy has quickly turned his season around after a difficult start at Monaco.

El Shaarawy has taken a liking to the tactics of Roma coach Luciano Spalletti and wants to help his new club return to the Champions League.

“We want to win Friday and then try to gather as many wins together as possible to see if there’s a chance to reach second place,” El Shaarawy said.



Referees could be involved in post-match interviews next season, according to the president of the Italian referees association.

“We’re not far away,” AIA president Marcello Nicchi said. “If we can extend this climate of serenity in which you simply talk about the matches and finally eliminate all the controversy then it shouldn’t be excluded - actually it’s probable - that starting next season referees will talk after matches.”

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