European Football: Record quest for Milan

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The Independent Online
MILAN, with a record 48 league games unbeaten, aim to start the new year with another record. Victory over Roma tomorrow would give the champions and league leaders a seventh consecutive away win, a feat never achieved in Italy's Serie A.

Juventus were the last team to record six consecutive away wins, but their run ended in January 1977 when they travelled to Roma. Milan equalled Juventus's record with a 2-1 win at Sampdoria on 23 December, a result which made them the only team to complete a calendar year without a league defeat.

With Marco van Basten still injured, Milan are expected to field the French striker, Jean-Pierre Papin, and the Dutchmen, Frank Rijkaard and Ruud Gullit. Roma will be without their former Red Star Belgrade midfielder, Sinisa Mihajlovic, who has a foot injury.

Paul Gascoigne will miss Lazio's trip to Ancona after injuring a thigh in training. Gascoigne has flown home to be at the side of his father who is in hospital after surgery to remove a cyst from his leg.

Though the leagues in Germany, France and the Netherlands remain idle this weekend, Spanish football returns. The leaders, Deportivo La Coruna, are at home to Espanol. They have dropped just one point in their last seven home games, while Espanol have only won twice at La Coruna in 21 visits.

Second-placed Barcelona take on Celta Vigo at home: the visitors last won in Barcelona 50 years ago. However, the champions must do without their Bulgarian striker, Hristo Stoichkov, the league's top scorer with 15 goals. He has a one-match suspension after being sent off in his last game against Rayo Vallecano. Real Madrid, three points adrift of Deportivo in third place, play host to Osasuna.

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