Inter Milan, Roma and AC Milan head into this weekend's Serie A action on the back of important wins in the UEFA Champions League.
Inter, having endured a wretched domestic spell to fall nine points adrift of AC Milan, eased the pressure on coach Rafael Benitez by beating FC Twente 1-0 on Wednesday while Roma came from behind in the last nine minutes to stun previously unbeaten Bayern Munich.
AC Milan also defeated Auxerre in France with goals from Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Ronaldinho. Inter and AC Milan have both clinched their spots in the Champions League last 16 and can now focus fully on their domestic encounters this week against Parma and Sampdoria respectively.
The Nerazzurri go up against Parma with Benitez having put a smile back on club president Massimo Moratti's face while safeguarding his own job.
"I thanked heaven because it was important to win and have hope," said Moratti after Esteban Cambiasso's goal defeated Dutch champions Twente in midweek. "We wanted to win at all costs and I have hoped that we would go forward. Now we must do better, not just Benitez but all the players. On the pitch, I saw the character of the team but the play was not bad.
"Benitez and I greeted each other with a big smile and a handshake, this means more than anything else. The important thing is to do things so that the players don't get hurt, with regards to the rest we know Benitez is a great coach."
We must do better, not just Benitez but all the players. On the pitch, I saw the character of the team but the play was not bad.
Massimo Moratti, Inter Milan president
Inter go into the game at the San Siro looking to collect their first win in five league games and having to overcome the absence of striker Samuel Eto'o. The Cameroon international, who is the joint top scorer in Serie A with nine goals alongside Napoli's Edinson Cavani, will serve the first game of a three-match ban after being punished for violent conduct during last weekend's 2-1 defeat at Chievo.
Milan will travel to Genoa to face Sampdoria on the back of four straight league wins and confident they can maintain their three-point advantage at the top of the standings. In-form Roma hope to end a fantastic week on a high when they make the journey to Sicily to face Palermo.
Claudio Ranieri's team climbed to fifth in the standings with last Saturday's 2-0 win over Udinese before taking one step towards qualification to the last 16 of the Champions League with a 3-2 triumph over Bayern Munich on Tuesday. Captain Francesco Totti came on as a substitute and scored the winner with a spot-kick.
Second-placed Lazio, who have just one win in their last four games, will square off against Catania at the Stadio Olimpico.
Juventus and Fiorentina will battle it out at Turin's Stadio Olimpico on Saturday night. The Turin giants will fancy their chances, having lost just once at home this season while the Florence outfit have mustered just two points in six away games so far.
Napoli are showing no signs of slowing down. Last weekend's 4-1 triumph over Bologna helped them climb back into third in the table. The result marked Napoli's fourth win in five games and left them five points behind Serie A leaders AC Milan. Napoli take on Udinese at the Stadio Friuli on Sunday.
Chievo lock horns with Bologna at the Stadio Renato Dall'Ara stadium on Sunday looking to pick up where they left off in last weekend's 2-1 triumph over Inter Milan. The win lifted the Flying Donkeys to ninth, five points clear of Bologna.
Serie A strugglers Lecce will have to get used to life without Ernesto Chevanton with the Uruguay striker having been banned for five matches. Chevanton was punished for unruly behaviour in last weekend´s 3-2 defeat to Sampdoria. Lecce are 17th in the standings, one point clear of the relegation zone, and meet Cagliari in Sardinia on Sunday on the back of two straight defeats.
Genoa coach Davide Ballardini has demanded an immediate response from his players after last weekend's 2-0 defeat to Juventus. It was his first loss since taking over the team earlier this month, and his side have the chance to make amends when they travel to Brescia on Sunday.
Bottom side Bari are desperate to turn their fortunes around when they host promoted side Cesena on Sunday. Bari have lost seven of their last eight games and have not tasted victory since 26 September.