Football: European football: Milan to the point

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The Independent Online
MILAN need only a home draw against Udinese today to retain their Italian league title. With only two games to play after the game, Milan have a six-point lead over Juventus and can afford to drop a point and still secure the Serie A title. Milan would thus round off a successful week which saw them finish top of Champions' League Group B following a 0-0 draw at Porto last Wednesday.

A point against Udinese would also ease pressure in the run-up to their Champions' Cup semi-final against Monaco at the San Siro in two weeks. The Milan coach, Fabio Capello, was waiting to assess how his players had come out of Wednesday's game before naming today's side.

Roberto Donadoni, who missed the Porto game with a mysterious allergy, will probably again be replaced by Angelo Carbone. Capello may rest Marcel Desailly and Dejan Savicevic in favour of the Dane, Brian Laudrup, and the Romanian, Florin Raducioiu.

Udinese, third from bottom on 26 points and seemingly relegation-bound, will be without their leading goalscorer, Marco Branco, who underwent a cartilage operation in midweek.

Parma, who beat Benfica 1-0 on Wednesday to reach the European Cup-Winners' Cup final, are at home to Cagliari, who were eliminated by Inter in the all-Italian Uefa Cup semi-final on Tuesday.

The Parma coach, Nevio Scala, will recall his captain and sweeper, Lorenzo Minotti, and the Colombian striker, Faustino Asprilla, who both missed Wednesday's game through suspension.

Cagliari, having narrowly missed out on a European final, now find themselves with 29 points and involved in a difficult relegation battle which sees them play Parma and Milan in two of their final three games.

Uefa Cup finalists Inter should be at full strength for their visit to Sampdoria, who meet Ancona in the second leg of the Italian Cup final next Wednesday. They may be without Ruud Gullit, who is suffering from a back strain.

The Milan managing director, Adriano Galliani, has confirmed that Milan are interested in re-signing Gullit, who they sold to Sampdoria last summer. But Galliani said a deal was far from being completed as both parties had yet to agree financial terms.

In Spain, the league leaders closing in on their first title, Deportivo La Coruna, will be on guard for today's visit of Tenerife, whose victories deprived Real Madrid of the league title in the final game of each of the last two seasons.

Deportivo are vying for the title with Barcelona, and any slip in the final five games could ruin their hopes. 'Each day our goal is nearer, and that helps maintain at a maximum our concentration and the spirit of sacrifice necessary for the final triumph,' Deportivo's defender, Salvador Gonzalez, said.

Real Madrid appear to have given up their title ambitions for this season and are busy trying to get their house in order for next year. They travel to Sevilla, but the signing of Tenerife's Argentine coach, Jorge Valdano, and Tenerife forward Fernando Redondo, are the club's priority.

The French leaders, Paris St Germain, who play Monaco at home with the title virtually assured, are looking to expunge their midweek defeat by Arsenal in the semi-final of the European Cup-Winners' Cup.

For the second year in a row, the Parisians have failed to make the final of a European competition after reaching the semi-final. Last year, they were beaten at the same stage of the Uefa Cup by Juventus, who went on to win the trophy.

'It's always the same thing, we lack the will to score. We are paralysed when approaching the goalposts. We don't take enough risks,' the club's vice-president, Michel Denisot, said.