Football: Milan threatened by Batistuta

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BEHOLD THE angel Gabriel. Gabriel Batistuta, the amazing Argentina striker, takes centre stage as Fiorentina, the league leaders and the club he captains, entertain Milan in Channel 4's live Serie A game in Florence tomorrow.

"Batigol" has scored a sensational 18 goals in 19 games in the world's classiest league this term - including a hat-trick in Fiorentina's 3-1 victory over Milan at the San Siro earlier in the season - and his outstanding form is the principal reason why Fiorentina hold a chance of winning their first Scudetto for 30 years. The club has 41 points, three ahead of Lazio and five ahead Milan (third).

Batistuta leads but, this season, Fiorentina are no one-man band. Fiorentina used to be Serie A's most inconsistent side at the back, but coach Giovanni Trapattoni's shrewd summer signings, Jorg Heinrich and Moreno Torricelli, have strengthened their defence and, up front, Edmundo, the talented temperamental Brazilian, and Portugal's Rui Costa have given Batistuta great support.

Fiorentina have an awesome 100 per cent record at home this term. Their 10-match winning run at their Artemio Franchi stadium leaves them fast closing on the Serie A record, 14, set by Torino in 1975-76.

Milan are a resurgent force after suffering their worst two seasons in two decades. Alberto Zaccheroni, their new coach, and Oliver Bierhoff, the German striker, who both joined the club from Udinese in the summer, have helped Milan turn the corner. After initial sulking from the Liberian George Weah, the Brazilian Leonardo and Maurizio Ganz, Zaccheroni has imposed an exciting 3-4-3 formation on his club with effect.

Fiorentina are at full strength but the Milan goalkeeper Sebastiano Rossi is still suspended. Weah returns for Milan from international duty.

OTHER GAMES Tomorrow: Bologna v Bari; Internazionale v Empoli; Lazio v Perugia; Salernitana v Udinese; Sampdoria v Cagliari; Venezia v Roma; Vicenza v Piacenza. Tomorrow night: Juventus v Parma.