Serie A weekend preview: Under-fire AC Milan host Parma, Juve bid to extend lead
The pressure is building on Clarence Seedorf as struggling AC Milan host in-form Parma in Serie A this weekend.
Last Updated: 14/03/14 11:46am
Drafted in as the 18-time Italian champions' saviour following Massimiliano Allegri's sacking in January, the former Rossoneri midfielder quickly delivered two straight Serie A wins to stabilise the team.
That proved to be a false dawn, however, as results tailed off to leave Milan in 10th place where they are currently an astonishing 37 points behind leaders Juventus with 11 games of the season still to play.
Now, following Mario Balotelli's failure to fire across two Champions League meetings with Atletico Madrid and grumbles of angry dissent from the Italy striker, reports suggest Seedorf has exiled the controversial 23-year-old.
Next up for Milan are high-flying Parma, who have won seven from nine games to enter the race for the Europa League - a readjusted target for the San Siro club which is currently nine points beyond their reach.
City rivals Inter Milan hold onto the last qualifying berth ahead of their trip to Hellas Verona on Saturday night while Lazio - visitors to Cagliari this weekend - are another serious obstacle in Seedorf's path.
The excitement of the title race is diminishing as Juventus close ever nearer to securing their third straight Scudetto and, with second-placed Roma hosting Udinese on Monday night, the Bianconeri will be 17 intimidating points clear if they edge out mid-table Genoa the previous night.
But Antonio Conte's men may be feeling the after-effects of their midweek clash with Europa League rivals Fiorentina.
Thanks to Mario Gomez and his late equaliser, the Tuscans have the upper hand ahead of next week's return leg.
La Viola entertain lowly Chievo and the bottom four all go head-to-head with each other as the battle to avoid the drop intensifies.
Livorno can leapfrog Bologna and reach 17th place with victory over the Rossoblu at the Stadio Armando Picchi while Sassuolo are preparing for a real relegation six-pointer against Catania in Reggio Emilia.
Eusebio Di Francesco's men can only climb as high as 19th by downing the Sicilians but with teams including Juventus, Fiorentina and Roma still to come over their run-in, Sassuolo are determined to exploit this opportunity.
Elsewhere,Rafael Benitez's third-placed Napoli visit Torino with a view to bouncing back from their 1-0 defeat to Porto in the Europa League.
Atalanta and Sampdoria are locked on 34 points in the middle of the pack and the Nerazzurri can feasibly reach ninth place with victory over the Ligurians at the Stadio Atleti Azzurri d'Italia.