Milan in striker crisis ahead of Serie A Roma clash
Serie A leaders AC Milan face a potential striking crisis this weekend ahead of their clash with Roma.
The champions face the possibility of having only two fit strikers after a succession of injuries struck down their regular forwards.
Antonio Cassano is still out with a long-term heart problem, Brazilian Pato is due to head to the United States on Monday to try to find a solution to his thigh injury while compatriot Robinho has hurt his ankle.
Added to that veteran Filippo Inzaghi has just been ruled out for up to three weeks with a pulled hamstring and top scorer Zlatan Ibrahimovic was forced off at half-time of Tuesday's Italian Cup exit at Juventus due to a recurring back problem.
Ibrahimovic may be fit enough to play but with Barcelona the visitors to the San Siro on Wednesday in the Champions League quarter-final, first leg, Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri may be unwilling to risk the big Swede against Roma on Saturday night.
It means Maxi Lopez, who scored a stunning individual goal in the 2-2 draw at Juventus -- which still saw Milan eliminated 4-3 on aggregate -- will likely lead the line alongside youngster Stephan El Shaarawy.
Despite Maxi Lopez's goal, it still rankles Milan chief executive Adriano Galliani that he failed to sign Carlos Tevez from Manchester City in January, settling for Maxi Lopez instead.
"I saw Carlitos (play against Chelsea) and after six months of not playing he came on with his usual nastiness and changed the game which could be the reawakening of Manchester City," said Galliani.
"It makes me mad. I was in love with Tevez but this is what destiny decided and we're more than happy with Maxi Lopez."
Milan face a tricky match against inconsistent Roma but they will be looking for a helping hand from their city rivals Inter Milan, who head to second-placed Juventus.
Juve may have denied Milan a Cup final place but they trail the rossoneri by four points in the league.
The Old Lady of Turin are unbeaten this season in all competitions but have paid for too many draws in the league.
A look at current form would suggest this is more like a relegation battle than a clash between two of the country's giants.
Juve have just two wins in their last eight in the league while Inter are on a run of one win in nine in Serie A.
Juve need to exploit the feel-good factor from reaching the Cup final to keep the pressure on Milan.
It may be a great time to face Inter but the last time Claudio Ranieri's men really performed well was against Milan: the last time they played a fellow giant.
They also received a boost in midweek with Napoli qualifying for the Cup final meaning that sixth place will now earn a Europa League spot.
Despite Inter's dire run they are only three points behind sixth-placed Roma.
The fight for the final Champions Legaue place, currently held by Lazio, looks to be going down to the wire with Napoli and Udinese just a point behind while Roma are only four points back.
Behind them both Inter and Catania are within a single victory of a European qualification position.
Lazio host Cagliari, Napoli entertain Catania and Udinese are away to Palermo this weekend.
In the relegation places rock bottom Novara host third from bottom Lecce while second from bottom Cesena host fourth from bottom Parma in a pair of clashes that will have a big bearing on who goes down.
AC Milan v Roma (1700 GMT), Palermo v Udinese (1945 GMT)
Sunday (1400 GMT unless stated)
Atalanta v Bologna (1130 GMT), Cesena v Parma, Chievo v Siena, Genoa v Fiorentina, Lazio v Cagliari, Napoli v Catania, Novara v Lecce, Juventus v Inter Milan (1945 GMT)
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