Maldini leans on past experience and exhorts Milan team-mates to carry on fighting Juventus for Italian title

Jon Culley
Thursday 05 December 2013 04:51
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Paolo Maldini, Milan's captain, says history should tell his team-mates not to give up on their chances of catching Juventus in the race for the Italian championship.

With seven matches left, Marcello Lippi's side lead by five points from Internazionale with Milan a further three points behind in third place, which has led Italian commentators to judge that tonight's Milan derby is little more than a sideshow with the scudetto bound for Turin.

But, recalling Milan's late title-winning assault in 1999, Maldini said: "The last title I won came after we were trailing by seven points with seven games remaining. That means we need to be ready to take advantage if Juve trip up and we need to believe in ourselves." Nonetheless, Juventus are not planning to stumble now and a trip to mid-table Bologna tomorrow should not prove a major obstacle.

After their Champions' League master-class against Manchester United, Real Madrid can take a substantial stride towards the Spanish title this weekend. A victory away to Real Sociedad tomorrow would establish a nine-point lead over the Basque side, who led La Liga for much of the season but have now slipped to third place.

As Valery Karpin, the Sociedad midfielder, said: "If we beat Madrid the title race is still on. But if we lose, they will be nine points clear and there'll be nothing we can do.

Should Barcelona do them a favour by beating second-placed Deportivo La Coruña at the Nou Camp tonight, Deportivo would likewise be nine points behind with nine games left.

The German champions, Borussia Dortmund, who have conceded their Bundesliga crown to Bayern Munich, could miss out on second place in the if they lose in Hamburg today. Four defeats since the winter break have seen them fall to third, 16 points behind the leaders Bayern and two behind Stuttgart, who can strengthen their hold on second spot with a win over lowly Leverkusen.

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