Ibrahimovic promises to launch Milan while Inter Conte seeks a rare victory in Napoli
Milan, January 4 (AFP) Zlatan Ibrahimovic has promised to start the AC Milan Series A season while his local rivals, Inter Milan, resume a title battle with Juventus this weekend after the end of the Winter Break.
Milan hosted Sampdoria on Monday, his first game since the humiliating 5-0 loss to Atalanta last month, which led to Ibrahimovic's return.
I'm ready and I really hope to play, said Ibrahimovic, 38, when he returned to Milan nine years after his departure to Paris Saint-Germain.
Things need to improve in the field and that is why I am here. I know what I have to do, Zlatan is still here.
The seven-time European champion, Milan, is eleventh in the table, 14 points from the places of the Champions League and only seven points from the relegation zone.
On the contrary, Inter defies the hegemony of Juventus champions at the top of Serie A, with both sides leveled with 42 points after 17 games.
Antonio Conte's Inter travels to Napoli, while Juve is at home against the sixth ranked Cagliari, this season's surprise package that is in the pursuit of Champions League football.
Inter Milan have not won at Stadio San Paolo in Napoli since October 1997, but last season's runners-up are eighth in this period, with Gennaro Gattuso replacing Carlo Ancelotti last month.
Inter has been strong in previous years, but has improved even more with Conte, said Naples defender Mario Rui.
They will make us suffer, but we are ready.
Juventus returns to action after his defeat of the Italian Super Cup against Lazio against a Cagliari team that had been impressively before the consecutive losses.
Meanwhile, the hot Lazio, six points behind the third with a game in hand, looks increasingly dangerous.
Simone Inzaghi's team, which has not lost since their 1-0 loss to Inter at the end of September, can take their league winning streak to nine games against Brescia, threatened by the decline.
The Roman team has scored two goals or more in each of their last 11 league games since the defeat of Inter, the first team to achieve that feat since the legendary team 'Grande Torino' in 1948.
One point behind Lazio in fourth place are the rivals of the capital, Rome, who receive Torino amid acquisition talks with US billionaire Dan Friedkin.
Fiorentina and Genoa begin the calendar year with new coaches.
Giuseppe Iachini's first game with Fiorentina in 15th place will be in Bologna, a team they are undefeated in 10 games.
The lower club, Genoa, has provided reinforcements for Davide Nicola's first game against Sassuolo.
Italy goalkeeper Mattia Perin returns from Juventus along with Swiss midfielder Valon Behrami and Bologna forward Mattia Destro.
One to watch:
While veteran Ibrahimovic prepares to start with AC Milan, fellow Swedish Dejan Kulusevski, 19, returns to borrowed Parma after signing a five-year contract with champion Juventus.
The promising teenager has had a decisive season since he gave the Atalanta loan to Parma in June, scoring four goals and setting another seven in 17 games.
He will face his parents club this weekend.
I have heard great things about Kulusevski, Ibrahimovic said about the player who has more for Juve in a deal worth almost 44 million euros ($ 49 million).
23 - Years since Inter's last victory at Napoli 17 - The objectives of Ciro Immobile to pursue the title of Lazio 16 - The goals of AC Milan with shy shots so far this season while waiting for Ibrahimovic 11 - The gap of points between Napoli and the Champions League places 8 - Lazio winning streak of the league
2 - Fiorentina points of his last seven Fixtures matches (all times GMT):
Brescia v Lazio (1130), SPAL v Verona (1400), Genoa v Sassuolo (1700), AS Roma v Torino (1945)
Monday Bologna v Fiorentina (1130), AC Milan v Sampdoria, Juventus v Cagliari, Atalanta v Parma (all 1400), Lecce v Udinese (1700), Napoli v Inter Milan (1945) (AFP) APA APA