It’s bound to be a very entertaining Serie A week-end: on Saturday, Udinese vs. Lazio to whet our appetite, Roma vs. Milan for the main course, Juventus vs. Napoli on Sunday for dessert. The main action however, will undoubtedly be on the field of the Stadio Olimpico of Rome, where a Scudetto-chasing Giallorossi will face a Champions League-hopeful Rossoneri. Waiting for Manchester United in April…
The good news for Spalletti involve the recuperation of Juan: the Brazilian defender did this week’s training with the rest of the team, and should regularly feature in the starting line-up on Saturday. Marco Cassetti (shoulder injury) and Philippe Mexes will however be absent, enabling Matteo Ferrari to replace the French center-back at the heart of the Roma defense. Alberto Aquilani will likely get the start over David Pizarro in midfield.
Ancelotti smiles: Clarence Seedorf and Marek Jankulovski are back. But Ancelotti is also sad: Alessandro Nesta didn’t recover on time, and will join Ronaldo, Dida, Cafu, Serginho and Inzaghi on the injury list. He will likely be replaced by Daniele Bonera as right-back (favored over Massimo Oddo), thus moving Kakha Kaladze and Paolo Maldini to the center. Jankulovski will feature as left-back. With the recovery of Seedorf, everything else should stay as ‘normally planned’ for the Milan coach, who will undoubtedly pick his favorite 4-3-2-1 Xmas tree formation. Ambrosini-Pirlo-Gattuso should feature in midfield, with Kaká-Seedorf supporting lone striker Alexandre Pato.
Daniele De Rossi vs. Andrea Pirlo
Azzurri teammates Daniele De Rossi and Andrea Pirlo will be at the heart of the action on Saturday, ready to face off in a battle of defensive tackles and pinpoint distribution. Roma Channel and Milan Channel got them together for a double interview, parts of which are posted below (fresh from La Gazzetta‘s English-section website):
What is the first thing that springs to mind when I say Roma-Milan?
De Rossi: I think of matches against the best and most prestigious team in Italy. I particularly remember a game that finished 3-0 when I was a ball boy: Sebastiano Rossi went mad because we were taking our time to give him the ball”.
Pirlo: “I think of great games and I hope this one will be too”.
What do you think of when I say Rossi/Pirlo?
De Rossi: “A friend, Azzurri team-mate and a good person. The best playmaker in the world over the last six or seven years”.
Pirlo: “Of the great memories of playing international football together”.
Tell us about your friendship.
De Rossi: “We met during the initial get-together before the Olympic Games and hit it off straight away. We have even been on holiday together”.
Pirlo: “We even became room-mates when on international duty after Nesta retired. We have a great relationship”.
Good and bad points about the other.
De Rossi: “The good thing about Andrea is that he doesn’t go looking for the spotlight: he doesn’t always feel he has to say something clever, like so many other people do. His flaw is that some people think he’s a sulker, which isn’t true at all. He was very supportive when I was sent off during the World Cup”.
Pirlo: “He’s great, he makes me laugh. I haven’t found any bad points yet. Perhaps that he is too good a player…”
Who makes the biggest contribution to the team in terms of league points, De Rossi or Pirlo?
De Rossi: “Pirlo brings Milan more points than I do for Roma”.
Pirlo: “I think we are both important and make significant contributions”.
You both appear in advertisements…
De Rossi: “As an actor I’d give Pirlo 7.5 or 8 out of 10; his foul temper was very convincing…”
Pirlo: “De Rossi is a good actor, I’d have to give him an 8″.
Roma-Milan, win or lose?
De Rossi: “Tell Andrea to lose: we might even be able to take the championship off Inter…”
Pirlo: “I’d prefer to win and see Milan finish ahead of Fiorentina”.
Roma-Milan, how will it turn out?
De Rossi: “We’ll win this one: we did it at their place and we can do it again”.
Pirlo: “The three points are vital for us”.
You’re sitting in a bar with Materazzi: who pays for drinks?
De Rossi: “Pirlo, he’s the richest”.
Pirlo: “The bar owner…”
And as a bonus feature, here’s the ad mentioned in the interview (also featuring Marco Materazzi). Time to brush up on your Italian but if languages aren’t your thing, the Molto Calcio blog’s got the ad explained here.