Mancini looks to wrap up Serie A title

Inter Milan is 14 points clear at the top of Italy's Serie A and coach Roberto Mancini is in no mood to relax.

updated: March 22, 2007 06:37 IST
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Inter Milan is 14 points clear at the top of Italy's Serie A and coach Roberto Mancini is in no mood to relax. Mancini expects a tough game on Wednesday against mid-table Udinese, the only team to prevent the Nerazzurri from scoring in the league this season. Ninth-place Udinese held Inter to a 0-0 draw in October. "We cannot lower our guard in the championship," Mancini said. "Every match is important ... If we keep this lead, we can win (the title) five rounds from the end. We must continue on our path and always try to win." Inter has 66 points after trouncing Catania 5-2 on Sunday for a 17th straight win. AS Roma is second with 52 points and Palermo is third with 44. Italy striker Vincenzo Iaquinta _ Udinese's top scorer with 10 goals - fractured his cheekbone in Sunday's 3-3 draw with Parma and will be out for a month. However, Antonio Di Natale scored twice at the weekend after a two-week absence with a leg injury. " "It won't be easy," Mancini said. "They've lost Iaquinta but got back Di Natale, who is very dangerous." Inter will be without Dejan Stankovic, who picked up his eighth yellow card of the season against Catania and is suspended. His unavailability reduces Inter's midfield options further with Esteban Cambiasso and Patrick Vieira injured. "We have a number of players who can play in several roles, and this is particularly useful at difficult times when you have suspensions or injuries," Mancini said. Olivier Dacourt returns from suspension and could be joined in midfield by defender Nicholas Burdisso, who played in the center for 20 minutes against Catania. "Of the players we have fit, Burdisso has the characteristics to play in that role if we're in difficulty," Mancini said. Palermo takes on AC Milan Roma, which beat Reggina 3-0 on Sunday, plays 15th-place Chievo Verona, and Palermo, which is short of form, faces a resurgent AC Milan. Palermo drew 1-1 with Atalanta on Saturday and has only won twice since Jan. 1 - a loss of form sparked by a season-ending knee injury to Brazilian striker Amauri in the last game of 2006. Since Ronaldo's arrival from Real Madrid in January, Milan has won four straight to be fifth in the standings. However, Milan is missing several defenders from injury and suspension. "Cafu's back hurts. Marek Jankulovski took a hit to his ankle and it's still really painful," Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti said Tuesday. Paolo Maldini, Kakha Kaladze and Alessandro Costacurta are also out with knee injuries, while Massimo Oddo is suspended. Midfielders Cristian Brocchi and Massimo Ambrosini could be drafted in as defensive cover. The Rossoneri have 36 points, after starting the season with an eight-point penalty from the Italian match-fixing scandal. Also Wednesday, it's: Ascoli vs Parma; Empoli vs Messina; Lazio vs Catania; Reggina vs Fiorentina; Sampdoria vs Atalanta; Siena vs Livorno; and Torino vs Cagliari.