New deal for Baresi

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THE veteran Milan captain Franco Baresi can celebrate the signing of a new contract with a home win against Roma this afternoon.

Baresi, who will be 36 in May, signed a one-year contract in midweek, prompting Milan vice-president Adriano Galliani to comment: "This is very satisfying for us. Baresi is unique."

Baresi and Liberian striker George Weah both return for the Italian league leaders. Weah has missed Milan's last three games while playing for Liberia in the African Nations' Cup, while Baresi was ruled out of last week's 2-0 win against Udinese by a minor injury.

Milan come into today's game unbeaten in 14 matches and three points clear of second- placed Fiorentina, with Parma two points further back in third place. In the absence of suspended Frenchman Marcel Desailly, Croat Zvonimir Boban lines up alongside Roberto Donadoni and Demetrio Albertini in midfield, while Weah joins Roberto Baggio and Montenegrin Dejan Savicevic in attack.

Roma may be without their Uruguayan striker Daniel Fonseca, who has a foot injury and is due to be replaced by either Francesco Totti or Marco Delvecchio. Argentine Abel Balbo leads the Roma attack, with Swede Jonas Thern in midfield and Brazilian Aldair in defence.

One man hoping for a Roma win today will be Balbo's compatriot, Gabriel Batistuta, the leading goalscorer for Fiorentina, who visit Cagliari. Fiorentina welcome back midfielders Sandro Cois and Emiliano Bigica and defender Lorenzo Amoruso from suspension.

Cagliari, humiliated 4-0 by Lazio last week, look to their Latin American strike force, the Uruguyan Dario Silva and Brazilian Oliveira.

Portugese midfielder Paulo Sousa, surprisingly dropped by champions Juventus for last week's 2-0 home win against Piacenza, is expected to return for the visit to Vicenza.

Fourth-placed Juventus, who trail Milan by eight points, can expect determined opposition from the in-form Vicenza, a point acknowledged by striker Fabrizio Ravanelli. who said: "It'll be anything but easy for us to pick up three points, but a Juventus that wants to win the title cannot settle for a draw in a game like this"

Vicenza will be without their suspended captain Domenico Di Carlo but field key foreigners - Swedish defender Joachim Bjorklun and the Uruguyan pair, defender Gustavo Mendez and striker Marcelo Otero.

Parma, who entertain Sampdoria, have to choose between Alessandro Melli and Bulgarian Hristo Stoichkov as striking partner for Gianfranco Zola. While Parma will be at full strength, Sampdoria will be without suspended captain Roberto Mancini and injured defenders Riccardo Ferri and Moreno Mannini.