Football: Juve look to maintain lead, Milan target third spot

Carlos Tevez should be buoyed up following his first call-up to the Argentina squad in three years on Monday. -- PHOTO: AFP
Carlos Tevez should be buoyed up following his first call-up to the Argentina squad in three years on Monday. -- PHOTO: AFP

MILAN (AFP) - Juventus travel to Genoa looking to maintain their three point lead on Roma on Wednesday while AC Milan go in search of a win away to Cagliari that could see them jump up to third place in Italy's Serie A.

Champions Juventus extended their advantage at the top of the table with a 2-0 win over Palermo Sunday while Roma dropped two points in a 0-0 draw away at highflying Sampdoria the previous day.

Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri admits his side are still 'looking for balance' as they head to the Luigi Ferraris Stadium.

Carlos Tevez should be buoyed up following his first call-up to the Argentina squad in three years on Monday, while Alvaro Morata and Fernando Llorente are both in the running to start alongside the 'Apache' up front.

Llorente broke his league duck in Sunday's win in Turin, although Morata could also be given the nod having shown plenty of promise in a 1-0 Champions League defeat away to Olympiakos last week.

Juventus will be without defender Patrice Evra after he was diagnosed with a hamstring strain which is expected to keep him out for a month.

Ghanaian Kwadwo Asamoah is expected to fill in, having mostly shared the left side position with Evra since the Frenchman arrived on a two-year contract from Manchester United in the summer.

Roma would be forgiven for feeling some nerves on their return to the Stadio Olimpico for the first time since the 7-1 Champions League drubbing by Bayern Munich last week.

The visit of promoted Cesena should, on paper, be no major problem for Rudi Garcia's side as they look to get back to winning ways.

"The Bayern match is behind us," insisted Garcia, who made light of his side's failure to score a goal against Sampdoria.

"We had chances to win this game but lacked bite in front of goal." Ashley Cole was dropped following his shocking display against Bayern and although Leandro Castan and Maicon are still sidelined through injury, the former Chelsea left-back is expected to start on the bench as Roma welcome Kostas Manolas back from a one-game ban.

Garcia still has doubts over the availability of midfielder Seydou Keita although striker Mattia Destro is expected to start despite missing training Monday due to a thigh problem.

Udinese leapfrogged Sampdoria into third place following a well-deserved 2-0 win over Atalanta on Sunday and the pair are now both on 16 points, six behind Juve and one ahead of Milan.

Anything less than a win for Udinese and Sampdoria, who face Fiorentina and Inter respectively, coupled with a Milan win would see the Rossoneri go third if they prevail at Cagliari.

The Sardinians, however, have put behind them a poor start by claiming seven points from their last four games, including three from a 4-1 drubbing of Inter Milan at the San Siro and a 4-0 rout of hosts Empoli last weekend.

That game saw a brace of goals from Brazilian Danilo Avelar, including a vicious strike from 25 metres that had wily veteran coach Zdenek Zeman positively purring.

"I'm happy because I have so many quality players to choose from, they make it difficult every time I'm choosing the starting line-up," said Zeman.

Fernando Torres, looking to add to the lone goal he has scored for Milan so far, away to Empoli a month ago, should start as the lone striker flanked by Stephan El Shaarawy and Keisuke Honda.

El Shaarawy admits it will be crucial to have the right attitude in Sardinia.

"We have to stay compact and united and take home three points. We just need to be a bit more clinical from the start," El Shaarawy told Milan Channel.

"We have a long road ahead and we have to pick up as many points as we can to stay close to third place."