By James Goyder
AC Milan could unleash their expensively acquired new look strikeforce away to Cesena this Saturday. The club are currently sitting on top of Seria A after just one match and have new signings Robinho and Zlatan Ibrahimovic available for selection for the very first time.
Former Inter Milan favorite Ibrahimovic is likely to be thrust straight into the fray as part of a three pronged attack featuring Brazilians Alex Pato and Ronaldinho. Another Brazilian forward, Robinho, is likely to be given a little longer to gain match fitness after being only sporadically involved in former club Manchester City’s pre season preparations.
AC Milan are hopeful that the arrival of these two players will give them the impetus with which to challenge city rivals Inter Milan. They will be hoping to make it two wins out of two and consolidate their Serie A lead with a win over newly promoted Cesena who emerged from their opening game with an extremely credible draw away to AS Roma.
Inter meanwhile are in action earlier in the day at home to Udinese. Rafael Benitez’s men could only manage a goalless draw away to Bologna on the opening weekend but they will be optimistic of taking all three points against a Udinese side which has seen a number of key players depart over the summer.
Roma will be looking to make up for the disappointment of an opening day draw with Cesena by taking all three points from their fixture with Cagliari. They will be without the services of controversial striker Adriano whose debut has been delayed by a thigh strain. With the Brazilian waiting in the wings prolific strike duo Mirko Vucinic and Francesco Totti will both be anxious to get off the mark as soon as possible while new signing Marco Borriello might be in line for a debut.
Another side with title aspirations are big spending Juventus. They brought in almost an entire new team but an opening day defeat to Bari was not the sort of return new manager Luige Del Neri expected on his substantial investment.
Juventus have got through a string of managers in quick succession in recent seasons and Del Neri will be desperate to take all three points when his former club Sampdoria come to town. Jorge Martinez will be absent due to injury while new loan signings Armand Traore and Leandro Reando could make their debuts for Juventus.
Domenico Di Carlo might have replaced Del Neri as manager but little else has changed at Sampdoria and they have a man in form up front in the shape of Antonio Cassano.
On Sunday all attention in Italy is likely to be on the ‘Derby del Sud’ between Bari and Napoli. There is a hostility between these two southern cities which runs far deeper than football and this is always a feisty fixture. Bari are the perennial underdogs and the sort of lavish spending with which Napoli secured the signature of Uruguayan International Edison Cavani (photo) over the summer will only strengthen their desire to get one over on their local rivals.
Bari strengthened their squad in the summer with a number of low key loan signings and made the best possible start with a 1-0 win over Juventus. They currently sit two points ahead of Napoli who will be desperate to get back to winning ways with a derby win in front of their own fans. Manuel Blasi will be absent for the hosts who was sent off during the draw with Fiorentina.
Elsewhere Brescia are at home to Palermo while Catania host Parma. Genoa will be without Luca Toni for the visit of Chievo but the veteran striker’s thigh injury is not as serious as expected and he is expected to be back in action within a week or two.
Highly rated Brazilian midfielder Hernanes will make his home debut for Lazio against Bologna while Fiorentina travel to Lecce without the suspended Adrian Mutu and injury victims Stefan Jovetevic, Juan Vargas, Mario Santana and Alessandro Gamberini.