Football: Udinese old boys face a tough trip back with Milan

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MILAN, ONLY four points behind Lazio, the league leaders, following last Sunday's 2-1 victory over Parma, face a trip to Udine for what promises to be a grudge match in Channel 4's live game tomorrow.

Udinese are far from being the biggest club in Serie A but constantly outperform their economic strength and, last season, mounted a temporary challenge for the scudetto.

However, tomorrow's visitors plundered Udinese in the summer, recruiting Alberto Zaccheroni, their coach, Oliver Bierhoff, the prolific German striker, the top scorer in Serie A last term, and Thomas Helveg, the Danish midfielder.

Despite their depleted condition, Udinese - who have won nine, drawn four and lost only one of their 14 home games this term, have bounced back to such effect that, following last Sunday's superb 2-1 victory at Cagliari's notorious island stronghold, they lie sixth in Serie A, just seven points behind their visitors, who have won three, drawn seven and lost three of their 13 games on the road.

Udinese will be at full strength but Milan will be without both Alessandro Costacurta and the injured midfielder Demetrio Albertini.

Meanwhile, Manchester United fans will be keeping an eye on the Olympic stadium in Rome today where Lazio entertain Juventus ahead of the latter's European Cup second leg with United in Turin on Wednesday. Juve, only seventh in Serie A, are out of title contention and Carlo Ancelotti, their coach, is likely to rest his French midfielders Zinedine Zidane (struggling with a knee injury) and Didier Deschamps, while Paolo Montero, his Uruguayan defender is injured.

Lazio, who seemed set to coast to title success, have run into problems. Their first choice back four are suspended. Alessandro Nesta and Sinisa Mihajlovic were sent off during last week's 3-1 defeat to Roma, and Giuseppe Pancaro and Paolo Negro are also banned. Attilio Lombardo, once of Crystal Palace, may play as a makeshift right-back.

FIXTURES (league positions in brackets): Today: Bologna (8) v Fiorentina (3); Lazio (1) v Juventus (7). Tonight: Parma (4) v Sampdoria (16). Tomorrow: Bari (11) v Salernitana (17); Empoli (18) v Piacenza (14); Internazionale (9) v Vicenza (15); Perugia (13) v Roma (5); Udinese (6) v Milan (2); Venezia (12) v Cagliari (10).