Juve rejuvenated

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The Independent Online
JUVENTUS can only hope that their Italian Super Cup victory over Parma marks a turning point in what has been an indifferent season so far. Halfway through the campaign, the reigning Italian champions are in fourth place, six points behind the leaders Milan.

Today they have what on paper should be an easy task, a visit to Cremonese. The bottom club belied their lowly status last week, however, holding Milan to a goalless draw.

Despite Juve's victory over Parma last Wednesday, their captain Gianluca Vialli believes they cannot afford any further mistakes going into the second half of the season. "Let's go easy with the praise and let's not get big-headed about beating Parma," he said. "We have a more important battle against Cremonese, and that's obviously a game we have to win if we want to get back into the title race."

His side should be at full strength, with Alessandro Del Piero and Fabrizio Ravanelli partnering Vialli in attack and Portugal's Paulo Sousa playing alongside France's Didier Deschamps in midfield.

Milan are at home to Padova who, despite picking up 10 points in their last five games, including wins over Internazionale, Cagliari and Atalanta, remain second last. Milan badly need a win following an indifferent run which has seen them held to four draws in five games. With their Liberian striker George Weah on African Nations Cup duty in South Africa, they will field an attacking trio of Roberto Baggio, Marco Simone and the Montenegrin Dejan Savicevic. The foreign midfield pair, Marcel Desailly and Zvonimir Boban, will fill the import quota.

Second-placed Fiorentina, who trail Milan by one point, have a tough afternoon ahead, with a visit to Torino. Fiorentina's preparations have not been helped by a midweek row between coach Claudio Ranieri and Portuguese midfielder Rui Costa, who expressed his dissatisfaction at being substituted 11 times in 17 league games.

"Rui is going through a difficult period but Fiorentina are second in the table and we need serenity, so he should think of the good of the team as a whole," Ranieri said. "But I'm not sure that he can manage it, he seems in such a state of confusion."

Despite the disagreement, Rui Costa is expected to start on Sunday alongside Argentine Gabriel Batistuta and Francesco Baiano in attack, with Stefan Schwarz behind him in midfield.