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Serie A: AS Roma seek to reverse poor run against Cesena

Second-place Roma is struggling to bounce back from its humiliating 7-1 defeat to Bayern Munich.

Associated Press

Updated:October 29, 2014, 8:33 AM IST
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Serie A: AS Roma seek to reverse poor run against Cesena
Second-place Roma is struggling to bounce back from its humiliating 7-1 defeat to Bayern Munich.

Rome: Juventus has restored a three-point lead atop Serie A. Second-place Roma is struggling to bounce back from its humiliating 7-1 defeat to Bayern Munich. And AC Milan is starting to look like a legitimate contender for third place and the final Champions League berth.

That's the situation in the Italian league entering a midweek round featuring Juve at mid-table Genoa, Roma hosting a Cesena squad hovering near the relegation zone and Milan visiting Cagliari, which is coached by the attack-minded Zdenek Zeman.

Here are a few things to know entering the ninth round of Serie A:

GRAZIE ROMA: Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri was relieved following a 2-0 win over Palermo on Sunday.

The three-time defending champion Juventus had seen its advantage cut after dropping its first points of the season against Sassuolo the previous week, then endured further disappointment when it fell to a second successive Champions League defeat at Olympiakos.

"I'm satisfied, because we gave up nothing and we've started not to concede any goals again," Allegri said.

Juve had opened a three-point lead after a controversial 3-2 win over Roma earlier this month.

"If the championship race is still alive, it's thanks to Roma," Allegri said.

RUDI'S RECORD: With only one win in its last five matches in all competitions, Roma is on its worst run since Rudi Garcia took over as coach last season.

The disappointing run includes a draw at Manchester City in the Champions League, the loss at Juventus, a win over Chievo Verona, the Bayern embarrassment and then a 0-0 draw at third-place Sampdoria on Saturday.

Garcia blamed the soft grass at Luigi Ferraris stadium for slowing down Roma's passing game.

"But drawing at the home of a third-place club which hasn't lost yet is par for the course. I'm satisfied with the squad," Garcia said.

For the Cesena match, Roma will likely still be without key midfielder Sedou Keita and right back Maicon, who are recovering from injuries.

MILAN-CHINA

The appearance of Hong Kong executive Richard Lee sitting next to club president Silvio Berlusconi at the San Siro on Sunday appeared to be a clear sign of AC Milan's interest in tapping Asian markets.

The Gazzetta dello Sport reports that Milan is considering commercial enterprises in Asia with Lee, such as opening a Casa Milan in China.

While Italy has seen an influx of foreign football owners recently - Boston executive James Pallotta is the president of Roma, Indonesian entrepreneur Erick Thohir controls Inter Milan and a group of North Americans took over Bologna earlier this month - Berlusconi recently said that he would never sell the club to foreigners.

Lee saw Milan allow a second-half equalizer in a 1-1 draw with Fiorentina.

Still, since getting beat 1-0 by Juventus in September, Milan is undefeated in its last five matches and is within one point of third place.

ROMERO RETURNS

After helping Argentina to the World Cup final, goalkeeper Sergio Romero is starting to make an impact again.

Having come on for the injured Emiliano Viviano in a 2-2 draw at Cagliari a week earlier, Romero made his first start of the season and kept a clean sheet in the 0-0 draw with Roma on Saturday.

Having played with Monaco on loan in the French league last season, Romero reportedly wanted to leave Sampdoria but couldn't find a club he liked.

"He's a real professional. We all know his qualities and he played a great match," Samp coach Sinisa Mihajlovic said, complementing Romero for saving a dangerous header from Roma forward Alessandro Florenzi in the final minutes.

In the World Cup semifinals, Romero saved penalties from Ron Vlaar and Wesley Sneijder in the shootout win over the Netherlands.

Next up, Romero takes his skills to the San Siro against Inter Milan on Wednesday.

Sampdoria has won four and drawn four in eight matches thus far.

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