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Football | Italy

Massimiliano Allegri © Gallo Images

Allegri eyes Champions League saviour



AC Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri is looking for a potentially job-saving victory against Roma on Sunday, knowing that would be enough to clinch Serie A's final Champions League spot.

Allegri has dragged Milan from the abyss of their worst ever Serie A start to the brink of Europe's premier club competition, but speculation in the press suggests his job depends on pushing his team over the finishing line.

Milan took a giant step towards claiming third place, which offers Champions League football through a preliminary round, with a 4-0 rout of Pescara on Wednesday.

With a four-point lead over fourth-placed Fiorentina and just two games left, the Rossoneri can cement third with a win.

And with his job likely to hinge on such a scenario, Allegri is taking nothing for granted.

"We hope to take the win on Sunday against Roma that would mathematically guarantee us third place. But we have to remain focused," he said.

A Milan defeat and a win Fiorentina would resurrect the Florentine side's hopes of competing against Europe's big boys next season, but coach Vincenzo Montella does not appear too hopeful.

He indicated that Fiorentina, who have played some cracking football this season thanks to the likes of striker Stefan Jovetic and playmaker Adem Ljajic, would be happy just to secure fourth spot and a guaranteed Europa League place.

"Our season has been very positive and we've made few errors. We can't change anything, but we have no regrets," said Montella. "I want to consolidate this fourth place."

A Fiorentina win would give La Viola a four-point lead over Udinese with one game remaining and mathematically secure fourth place.

That would leave the fight for the final Europa League spot down to fifth-placed Udinese and Rome pair Lazio and Roma, who are both two points adrift.

Udinese and their on-form striker Antonio Di Natale host Atalanta looking for a seventh consecutive win.

Lazio have also built momentum, at least in terms of scoring goals.

After a turbulent season, Vldaimir Petkovic's side completed a 6-0 rout of Bologna last weekend - when Miroslav Klose scored a club record five goals - and then ended Inter Milan's hopes of European football with a 3-1 win at the San Siro Wednesday.

In the event Udinese hold on to fifth, one of the capital clubs will have a chance to secure Europa League qualification by winning the Italian Cup final on May 26.

However, Petkovic is relying on league form to get them through.

"Now there are three teams fighting for the Europa League. If we win our last two games then I'm sure we'll qualify," said the Bosnian.

With rock bottom Pescara already relegated, Siena could follow suit if, as expected, they lose to Napoli on Sunday.

Third-from-bottom Palermo, meanwhile, are four points from safety and need to win their final two games, away to Fiorentina and at home to Parma, to have any chance of avoiding a return to Serie B for the first time since the 2003-2004 season.

Champions Juventus secured their 29th league title last weekend but Antonio Conte's side have a new objective: beating the 91 points garnered in 2005/06, when they were stripped of their Serie A title for match-fixing.

Juve's current haul of 86 is already their best ever official tally, but the club wants to beat the figure achieved under Fabio Capello, before it was erased from the record books due to the Calciopoli scandal that also cost the Old Lady of Turin two Serie A titles.

Ahead of games against Cagliari and Sampdoria, assistant coach Angelo Alessio said: "We're going out to beat Capello's record."

Fixtures:

Saturday

Juventus v Cagliari

Catania v Pescara

Sunday

Chievo v Torino

Fiorentina v Palermo

Genoa v Inter

Lazio v Sampdoria

Napoli v Siena

Udinese v Atalanta

Parma v Bologona

AC Milan v Roma

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