Milan set to underline Serie A challenge

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The Independent Football

Milan will want to reassert themselves quickly as Serie A favourites, after a surprising home defeat by Lazio in the first leg of their Coppa Italia semi-final on Thursday evening, when they take on struggling Perugia at San Siro tomorrow afternoon.

However, with Roma and Juventus meeting in the capital, they could go seven points clear by the evening if results go their way. A draw would be the ideal result for Carlo Ancelotti's Milan, assuming they take the points in their own game.

Last weekend Milan stretched their lead to five over Roma and Juve by beating Bologna, while Roma slipped up at Brescia. Roma have stumbled badly since the new year, with two defeats and a draw in their last five matches. Juventus, hunting a third consecutive Scudetto, are unbeaten in seven matches and will relish their trip to Rome.

In Spain, Real Madrid will have to put thoughts of Cup glory behind them when they turn to the Primera Liga today. Madrid already have one foot in next month's final following a 2-0 win over Sevilla in the first leg of the Copa del Rey semi-final.

Today's rivals Malaga travel to Madrid on the back of a 6-1 home defeat to Valencia and having lost their last five games. The Galacticos could be without Luis Figo, who has a back problem, but Ronaldo will be back after shaking off a fever.

Second-placed Valencia will hope to keep the pressure on when they entertain Atletico Madrid, as will Deportivo La Coruña when they visit an Albacete side still smarting from last weekend's 5-0 defeat by Barcelona.

In France, Lyon take on the bottom team Guingamp at the Stade Gerland as they attempt to narrow the gap on the leaders, Monaco, tonight. The 2002 and 2003 champions narrowed the gap to Monaco to four points after securing three consecutive wins.

Lyon's title hopes appeared shattered after their 3-0 loss to Monaco at the start of January. But since then Didier Deschamps' men have managed just one win in five matches.

Monaco will be without inspirational playmaker Ludovic Giuly when they travel to Metz.

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