Amelia: This weekend could be decisive
AC Milan goalkeeper Marco Amelia believes the Rossoneri will have all but won the Serie A title if results go their way this weekend.
Milan lead second-placed Napoli by six points with five games remaining and although they cannot win the Scudetto before Easter, victory for them and failure to do so by their main rivals would mean only an extraordinary collapse could prevent them from securing an 18th league crown.
Amelia, who has been standing in for regular number one Christian Abbiati, has warned his team-mates against taking Saturday's opponents Brescia lightly. Brescia may be second from bottom, but they are fighting for their Serie A lives.
"This weekend could be as good as decisive if the other results go our way," Amelia told Sky. "But I know what it means to be faced with a team that's fighting for survival so we'll go to Brescia with extra grit knowing that our psychological state will be crucial."
Milan are not just honing in on a league title, but are also in the semi-finals of the Italian Cup and could do the double this season in coach Massimiliano Allegri's first year at the club. "If we manage to do a league and cup double in our first year with a new coach that would be a great achievement," added Amelia.
However, they will have to improve on Wednesday's semi-final first-leg performance against Palermo at the San Siro if they are to make the final as they were held to a 2-2 draw. Palermo face Napoli in Sicily with the visitors looking to bounce back from last weekend's home loss to Udinese and trying to secure UEFA Champions League football next season.
"We know what our abilities are, there's great excitement in Naples when we win, but there's also a lot of criticism when things go badly," forward Giuseppe Mascara told Radio Marte. "We need balance, we're all still on the same side. Our objective is close and we need to achieve it. Now we'll put it all behind us and kick on against Palermo and try to maintain second place."
Breathing down their necks are reigning champions Inter Milan who at eight points behind their bitter city rivals have surely given up hope of securing a sixth straight Scudetto. However, Serbia midfielder Dejan Stankovic, who scored the winner in their Italian Cup semi-final first-leg success away at Roma on Tuesday, said talk of their demise is premature.
"I'm very proud to be a part of this team and the colours that I wear, I always have been and even more so in the difficult times," Stankovic told the club's in-house TV channel. "We're very united, we're close, we've understood now is the time to stick together more than ever in this important end to the season.
"There were those who couldn't wait to knock us given that we'd won a lot, in fact everything, for five years. But that's water off our backs, we're as humble and calm as ever and we're waiting for our moment."
Inter had lost four of their previous five matches until defeating Roma 1-0 in midweek and they host Lazio on Saturday. Lazio are only one place and three points behind them as both sides try to secure third place and an automatic passage into next season's Champions League group stages.
At the bottom Bari will be relegated if they lose at home to Sampdoria or if they draw, and Cesena earn at least a point at Bologna. They could even be relegated with a victory in the unlikely event that Cesena, Lecce, Parma and Catania all win away from home.