Inter chief Moratti hails adversaries Juventus

Brief news ahead of Serie A matches this weekend:

Inter Milan president Massimo Moratti has stunned Italian football by hailing long-time bitter adversaries Juventus for rising to the top of Serie A.

"I've been impressed by Juventus. They are doing very well, they're playing well and very efficiently. That's a novelty, it's not something we expected this year but it's happened. AC Milan still have a very strong squad," he told reporters.

Moratti also hinted on-loan forward Mauro Zarate could be signed on a permanent deal from Lazio after impressing of late.

Inter travel to Udinese on Saturday with both sides hoping for a late push for third spot and a Champions League qualifying berth.

Defenders Walter Samuel and Maicon and playmaker Wesley Sneijder miss out for Inter.

Leaders Juventus travel to bottom side Cesena on Sunday hoping their fans behave themselves after another fine for racist chanting in Wednesday's 2-1 win over Lazio.

"Juventus are at the cutting edge of attempts to eradicate racism," Juve sporting director Beppe Marotta said on the club's Twitter feed. "Our youth sector is a sort of multi-ethnic lab, consisting of players from all continents. We ask the media to help us in order to support our club in this fight."

He also said now was not the time to discuss the possibility of a new contract for evergreen forward Alessandro Del Piero, who grabbed the winner against Lazio but whose deal runs out at the end of the campaign.

Second-placed AC Milan, a point behind Juve, host surprise relegation candidates Genoa on Saturday with former Genoa striker Stephan El Shaarawy itching to get in the starting line-up.

His quest will be helped by Alexandre Pato, Kevin-Prince Boateng and Antonio Cassano lacking full fitness. Right-back Ignazio Abate and midfielder Massimo Ambrosini are also likely to join central defender Thiago Silva on the injured list.

Siena president Massimo Mezzaroma, whose side are almost safe and host Bologna on Sunday, has reacted angrily to reports linking the club to match-fixing in Serie B last season.

"I am shocked by this news and deny any involvement by the club and myself," he said in a statement.

Lazio midfielder Stefano Mauri, whose third-placed club visit second-bottom Novara on Sunday, attended a meeting with the Italian Football Federation's prosecutor on Friday as investigations continue into potential match-fixing and illegal betting in Serie A and B.

"I cannot talk but I am calm," the Italy international told reporters. His lawyers said he has no case to answer.

Parma's on-loan Inter Milan midfielder McDonald Mariga of Kenya has ruptured his cruciate ligament, media reports said.

The northern side are not yet safe from relegation and visit Palermo on Sunday.


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