Del Piero chases Juve scoring record in San Siro
Juventus stalwart Alessandro Del Piero is creaking towards retirement but the chance to seal one last slice of personal glory awaits this Saturday at AC Milan.
Milan: Juventus stalwart Alessandro Del Piero is creaking towards retirement but the chance to seal one last slice of personal glory awaits this Saturday at AC Milan.
There could hardly be a bigger stage than the San Siro for the 35-year-old to become Juve`s all-time Serie A top scorer after equalling Giampiero Boniperti`s tally of 178 this month.
Del Piero is far from a guaranteed starter these days but injuries to Amauri and Vincenzo Iaquinta and Milos Krasic`s suspension for diving look likely to thrust him into the starting lineup against old rivals the Rossoneri. (1845 GMT)
"It`s an honour to be up there with him," said Del Piero, joint-10th with 1950`s great Boniperti on the all-time Serie A top scorers list. "It will be a great game against Milan."
For all his achievements in the game including a 1996 Champions League title and 2006 World Cup winners medal, the ex-Italy forward remains a shy character, whose burning ambition is only revealed when stomping off the pitch when substituted.
"Il Capitano" is already Juve`s all-time leading scorer and appearance holder in all competitions but with his side rebuilding after a 2006 match-fixing demotion and last term`s seventh place, Boniperti`s record is perhaps his last target.
While the scudetto (title) probably looks beyond fifth-placed Juve in what is possibly Del Piero`s final season, Milan believe that they could seal their first league title since 2004.
Second behind surprise leaders Lazio after eight games, Milan have discovered the art of winning when they do not play especially well -- as seen in Monday`s lucky 2-1 win at Napoli.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic offers the guarantee of goals while fellow new signing Robinho`s pace from deep gives the side much-needed urgency, so much so that Ronaldinho may not start against Juve even if he recovers from a thigh strain.
Defensively they have a raft of options, with fourth-choice right back Massimo Oddo supplying the two assists in Naples amid an injury crisis which would have crippled other teams.
Oddo made his name at Lazio but the Rome club have struggled to field top players since his 2007 move to Milan -- until now.
Striker Sergio Floccari has got over a nightmare spell at Genoa and new Brazilian Hernanes has added a touch of class in midfield, which has also rubbed off on Italy`s Stefano Mauri.
Sunday`s trip to Palermo (1130) is one of the toughest tests yet for Lazio, two points above Milan, even if the Sicilian side have lost their last two despite the supreme skill of much-tracked Argentine playmaker Javier Pastore.
Champions Inter Milan, who drew 1-1 with Sampdoria last Sunday, visit Genoa on Friday (1845 GMT) with Diego Milito maybe back from injury to lessen the scoring burden from Samuel Eto`o.
Fiorentina could include striker Adrian Mutu at Catania on Sunday (1945), despite a police probe into an alleged assault in a bar, after the Romanian completed his ninth-month drugs ban.