Ibrahimovic and Lukaku meet again as Milan rivals battle for top spot in Serie A



AC Milan and Inter city renew their duel for the top spot in Serie A on Sunday in a third clash this season between star forwards Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Romelu Lukaku as champions Juventus catch up. Antonio Conte’s Inter rose to the top after Lukaku scored two goals in a 3-1 win over Lazio, one point ahead of Milan, who fell to second place after losing to Spezia last weekend.

Juventus will be looking for a boost against Crotone, which is the background after their loss to Napoli with a knockout defeat of the Champions League at Porto. Inter have the advantage of being cooler having been eliminated early from European action.

AC Milan return to Italy after conceding a goal at the end of a 2-2 draw against Red Star Belgrade in the Europa League, in which midfielder Ismael Bennacer was injured.

“Against Spezia, it was not the real AC Milan. The important thing is to turn the page, ”said Milan coach Stefano Pioli.

It will be the third derby of this season with Milan winning the first 2-1 in the league.

Inter won a fierce Italian Cup quarter-final by the same score, a match overshadowed by Ibrahimovic and Lukaku who met and exchanged insults, with the Swede later sent off.

Inter have won five of their last six games. But AC Milan can win both league games against Inter for the first time since 2010-11, when they won their most recent Serie A title.

Roma, seven points behind Inter in third place, can benefit from Milan’s duel to close the gap, with the capital’s team traveling to 15th-ranked Benevento after a 2-0 Europa League win against Sporting Braga.

Juventus, in fourth place, one point behind Roma, should take all three points against Crotone on Monday, despite being held back by the Calabrian side in their last two games.

However, the Turin giants have an injury crisis with Leonardo Bonucci, Giorgio Chiellini, Arthur, Juan Cuadrado, Paulo Dybala and Álvaro Morata all uncertain.

Champions League rivals Atalanta and Napoli will meet on Sunday before the Bergamo team host Real Madrid in this year’s elite European tournament.

Gennaro Gattuso’s Napoli lost their Europa League tie in Granada and also has a long injured list with Dries Mertens, Kostas Manolas, Hirving Lozano and Elseid Hysaj, while Kalidou Koulibaly and Faouzi Ghoulam must receive coronavirus clearance.

Lazio, tied for seventh in points with Napoli and Atalanta, host Sampdoria, whom they lost 3-0 earlier this season.

But the Romans are in shape in 2021 with 19 points from eight games, more than any other Serie A team.

On Friday, relegation rivals Cagliari and Torino collide with the Sardinians in search of a first win since 7 November.
One to watch: Adam Ounas

Crotone will be looking for new Algerian recruit Adam Ounas to score against Juventus. The 24-year-old went off the mark in his first game against Sassuolo last weekend after the Napoli loan spen the first half of the season in Cagliari. Crotone has scored just 23 goals in 22 games this season, with 52 goals conceded.


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