Lazio look to rally

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The Independent Online
LAZIO hope to recapture the form that brought them a 4-0 victory over the champions Juventus last weekend when they travel to fourth-placed Fiorentina today.

The Romans, in second place and the only undefeated team in Serie A, were brought back down to earth on Tuesday when they lost 2-0 at home to the French underdogs, Lyon, to go out of the Uefa Cup 4-1 on aggregate.

With the goalkeeper Luca Marchegiani out for at least a month with a knee injury, Lazio's suspect defence can expect a thorough going-over from the Florentines' stylish Argentinian striker Gabriel Batistuta.

Fiorentina's midfield is injury-depleted, however, with Massimo Orlando missing after a knee operation, Emiliano Bigica out with a muscle strain and Giovanni Piacentini doubtful with a knee problem.

Juventus, who themselves humiliated Rangers 4-0 on Wednesday, will have their first-choice attack force of Alessandro Del Piero, Fabrizio Ravanelli and Gianluca Vialli in harness for the first time this season, at Udinese.

Leaders Parma have what seems a comparatively easy job at second-bottom Cremonese, and will have been boosted by their 4-0 European Cup-Winners' Cup win over Sweden's Halmstad after losing the first leg 3-0.

Third-placed Milan will hope to improve on successive draws at home to struggling Cagliari. Roberto Baggio has made a quick recovery from his latest leg injury and will start the match, but Marco Simone is out with an ankle problem.

The Spanish First Division leaders, Atletico Madrid, welcome back their Argentine striker Diego Simeone from injury against Zaragoza today, knowing victory is almost imperative if they are to stay clear of second-placed Barcelona. Atletico go into the match unbeaten, with 26 points,while Zaragoza are in mid-table. Barcelona, three points off the pace, have a seemingly easy home game against the newly promoted Salamanca.

Buoyed by last week's 3-0 away win over the league leaders Metz, and their dismissal of Celtic in the Cup-Winners' Cup, Paris St Germain are poised to return to the top of the French First Division. Emphatic wins over Auxerre and Metz have brought PSG from six points adrift to within a point of the top and they can take advantage from Nice's visit today.

The veteran playmaker Bernd Schuster, never a stranger to controversy, has been told by his club, Bayer Leverkusen, that he is not being considered for selection after weeks of disputes with coach Erich Ribbeck.

The 35-year-old returned from Spain in 1993 and signed a four-year contract with Leverkusen. His efforts this season have been severely criticised by Ribbeck, and the coach has often consigned him to the bench.