Milan duo keen to make up ground
AC Milan and Inter Milan go into this weekend's Serie A games in the unusual position of having to play catch-up after slow starts to the season.
The former host Palermo on Saturday after mustering just five points in the opening five league games and lie six points behind joint leaders Juventus and Udinese. It has been 21 years since defending champions have had such a poor beginning to the campaign.
"We haven't collected many points in the opening five games," AC Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri told Gazzetta dello Sport. "We expected a better start but the season is long and we have plenty of time to recover.
"We return after the international break having recovered several players from injury and with the calmness that allows us to play with the right tension but without nerves."
Milan welcome back winger Robinho and defender Philippe Mexes, who could feature on Saturday. Inter, meanwhile, have won just one of their Serie A games so far and are 17th in the standings - one point behind Milan, their worst start in 28 years. I Nerazzurri have conceded away a league-high 11 goals.
They travel to Sicily to face Catania on Saturday without suspended Andrea Ranocchia and Joel Obi, while coach Claudio Ranieri must serve a one-match touchline ban. Ranieri was sent to the stands after insulting the referee in their 3-0 defeat to Napoli last time out.
Udinese and Juventus are the only unbeaten teams in Serie A. The Udine outfit take on Atalanta in Bergamo while Juve meet Chievo in Verona looking to remain at the top of the standings for another week.
Napoli will be bolstered by the return of Edinson Cavani for Saturday's game against Parma. The Uruguay forward missed his team's triumph at Inter Milan in the last round but has recovered from an ankle injury.
Lazio are hoping to recover their top scorer Miroslav Klose in time for Sunday's derby against Roma. The Germany international is doubtful for the encounter with a knee injury. Roma, who are level on eight points with Lazio, are without injured captain Francesco Totti but could hand Erik Lamela his debut.
Stefano Pioli's first game in charge of Bologna will be at Novara on Sunday. Pioli replaced Pierpaolo Bisoli before the international break after the Rossoblu claimed just one point in their first five games.
Cesena striker Adrian Mutu will face his former club Fiorentina on Sunday for the first time since leaving the Viola this summer. Lecce coach Eusebio Di Francesco will be under pressure to get a positive result at Genoa this weekend with his team having won just once and lost four times.
Cagliari will look to keep up their unbeaten run at the Sant' Elia stadium when they host Siena.