Montella talks up Roma's chances for Lazio derby

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The Independent Football

Roma may not be playing a good game at present, but they are still talking one. Vincenzo Montella yesterday warmed up for the derby with Lazio by asserting: "They are doing better than us and are in better form but, even so, they are not as good as us."

Roma languish in 14th place, nine places and five points behind a Lazio team which, unlike themselves, has performed better than expected this season.

Roma fans protested at the club's training ground this week following the defeat to 10-man Empoli but Montella insisted, in a rather more lame rallying cry: "We still believe we can get up to fourth place this season."

If nothing else this view reflected the fear that Juventus, after seven successive wins, are already running away with the pennant but they did lose in midweek, in Munich. Succour perhaps for Lecce who host the champions today. More pertinently, Juve will be without the injured Lilian Thuram and Patrick Vieira.

Milan, in second, must do without Andrei Shevchenko for the visit of Palermo but can still partner Alberto Gilardino with Christian Vieri.

Real Madrid's ability to stay at the top of the Spanish league will be examined tomorrow when Valencia visit the Bernabeu. Valencia have lost once in seven league starts and are fifth in the table, three points behind Real. While Valencia have David Villa returning from suspension, and Pablo Aimar back from gastroenteritis, Real will be without Ronaldo, Julio Baptista and Michel Salgado.

Osasuna, a surprise second-place, host Barcelona who are struggling in sixth. Barça have doubts over Rafael Marquez, Ludovic Giuly, Gabri and Deco.

New Bundesliga leaders Werder Bremen visit Hanover 96 without Johan Micoud but Miroslav Klose and Ivan Klasnic should both be fit to continue a partnership that has already brought 18 league goals this season. Bayern Munich host MSV Duisburg tomorrow.