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Lazio look to extend unbeaten record to 17

Associated Press

Updated: January 25, 2013, 6:43 PM IST
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Lazio look to extend unbeaten record to 17
Lazio are currently five points behind league leaders Juventus.

Milan: Lazio will be looking to extend their unbeaten run in all competitions to 17 when they take on Chievo Verona on Saturday in the Serie A.

Lazio were held to 2-2 at struggling Palermo last weekend, slipping to five points behind league leader Juventus. However, the Rome club is full of confidence after a late equalizer saw they draw 1-1 at Juventus in the first leg of the Italian Cup semifinals on Tuesday.

Juventus hosts relegation-threatened Genoa, while Napoli - who are level on points with Lazio - visits Parma. "Now we're thinking about the league match which is very important and then we'll worry about the return match," Lazio captain Stefano Mauri said. "They have to score a goal, but we want to have a great game ... we'll see how it goes.

"Against Palermo we saw that when we let them have space, we get in difficulty. We seem to lack something against less prestigious teams, we need to be meaner, especially in the opening stages. In contrast, against more important opponents, we have never made mistakes."

Midfielder Abdoulay Konko has recovered from injury but striker Miroslav Klose remains a doubt. Chievo have won once in their past four games and slipped to 12th. Juventus stretched its lead at the top of the table last weekend after getting back to winning ways against Udinese.

It has been further boosted this week by goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon signing a two-year extension to his contract and the confirmation that Fernando Llorente will join in the summer on a free transfer from Athletic Bilbao.

With the Champions League restarting next month, and a last-16 tie against Celtic, Juventus is firmly on course to win an impressive treble. "We want to progress in every competition," Andrea Barzagli said. "We certainly don't put one ahead of another.

"I'm at a club where I can win and I want to do so as much as possible." In contrast, Genoa is a club in turmoil and travels to Turin with a new coach, its third of the season.

Genoa sacked Luigi Del Neri and rehired Davide Ballardini shortly after Sunday's 2-0 defeat at home to Catania, which left the team in 18th place in Serie A, three points off safety.

It has won just twice in its past 17 matches. On Sunday, Napoli travels to Parma, which is the only club in Serie A yet to lose at home.

Napoli welcomes back captain Paolo Cannavaro for the first time since a six-month ban for failing to report match-fixing was lifted on appeal. The ban - along with a two-point penalty deduction for Napoli, which was also rescinded - was imposed in December.

"What happened has given me and the whole group even more desire to win," he said. "I've always trained well, then on matchdays it was hard, but I was always near my teammates and they gave me a great hand. Now I'm ready to come back and I really want to turn the page.

"We know that if we play at our level we can beat anyone. The coach is a winner and he has given us that mentality, too. Napoli is really strong this year and we want to stay in touch with the leaders."

Inter Milan is four points further back and it hosts Torino, while fifth-placed Fiorentina travels to Catania. AC Milan, nine points off third place, will look to keep alive its hopes of a Champions League berth when it visits Atalanta.

Also on Sunday, it's: Bologna vs Roma; Cagliari vs. Palermo; Sampdoria vs. Pescara; and Udinese vs. Siena.

First Published: January 25, 2013, 6:43 PM IST
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