Serie A Preview: Abate motivated for Milan derby, Juve face Lazio in table-topping clash
Milan full-back Ignazio Abate insists there will be no lack of motivation in Sunday's match against fierce rivals Inter.
The Milan derby is traditionally one of the most revered contests in world football due to the prestige and history the two Serie A giants boast.
However, this weekend's contest at San Siro has a somewhat underwhelming feel considering the struggles of both teams in the league this season.
Much was expected of Filippo Inzaghi's first season in charge of Milan, but they are seven points adrift of the UEFA Europa League places and some 28 off the pace of leaders Juventus.
Roberto Mancini's return to Inter has also as yet failed to yield a turnaround in fortunes and they are two spots and one point below their rivals in 10th.
Despite the sides' respective failures, Abate - who has been deputising as captain for the injured Riccardo Montolivo - says the burning desire to secure bragging rights remains as fierce as ever.
"It is not the same derby as a few years ago," he told Sky Sport Italia. "But there is still motivation [to win].
"We want to give satisfaction to the club and to the fans. They're a good team with good players and great strikers like Mauro Icardi and Rodrigo Palacio, so we'll have to be careful."
A day earlier Juve have the chance to respond to one of the biggest upsets in Serie A history in last week's 1-0 defeat to Parma when the champions play their top-of-the table encounter against Lazio.
Massimiliano Allegri's side saw a 20-match unbeaten league run ended at Stadio Ennio Tardini, but returned to winning ways with a 1-0 victory over Monaco in the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals first leg.
Lazio have proved to be no pushovers, though, and a run of nine wins in 10 league matches has seen them usurp city rivals Roma into second.
Roma could only muster a 1-1 draw against Torino last time out and they will attempt to get back on track against Atalanta, while fourth-placed Napoli will hope to capitalise on any slip-ups by beating relegation-threatened Cagliari.
Cesena are seven points adrift of safety and face a make-or-break encounter at Europa League hopefuls Sampdoria on Saturday.
Empoli and Verona are not fully out the mire yet. The former host Parma, while the latter visit Fiorentina on Monday.
In other matches, Sassuolo and Palermo are at home against Torino and Genoa respectively, while Udinese visit Chievo.