Milan hopes to end poor run of form at Udinese

AC Milan will try to return to the win column on Saturday at Udinese after a dip in form has left the Rossoneri staring up at Juventus in the Serie A standings.

A run of seven wins in eight matches in all competitions has been followed by a pair of losses and a scoreless draw, with Milan manager Massimiliano Allegri calling on his team to refocus its attentions.

The 0-0 draw with Napoli last weekend dropped Milan one point back of Juventus in the league, and it was followed by a 2-1 defeat against the Old Lady in the first leg of the Coppa Italia semifinals on Wednesday.

Udinese has had some struggles of its own recently, having lost two of its last three games. But the hosts know that a win on Saturday will see them join Milan on 44 points and continue their push in the title race.

Milan will be eager to put its recent struggles in the past, but it will have to do so without the services of striker and leading scorer Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who will be serving the first of a three-game ban on Saturday.

The Swede leads Milan with 15 goals this season, but he received a red card in the club's draw with Napoli after slapping defender Salvatore Aronica.

The injury absences of both Alexandre Pato and Kevin Prince Boateng will further take away offensive options for Allegri.

Udinese possesses the top scorer in the league in Antonio Di Natale, who has netted 16 goals this term, while the club also brings an unbeaten home mark into the match.

Juventus enters the weekend one point clear of Milan and with a game in hand and will try to keep the pressure on Allegri's men with a win at bottom-half Bologna on Sunday.

Fifth-place Inter Milan has fallen nine points off the pace of Juve after claiming one point from its last three matches and the Nerazzurri host last- place Novara on Sunday, while Roma, which moved to within one point of Inter after a 4-0 win over Claudio Ranieri's men last weekend, travel to Siena on Monday.

Napoli has slipped to seventh after going its last five games without a win, a streak the team hopes to snap on Monday at home against Chievo.

Palermo has won three of its last four games and visits Cagliari in Saturday's other match, Lecce sits three points from safety and travels to Atalanta, Catania entertains Genoa and Fiorentina meets up with Parma at the Stadio Ennio Tardini in a matchup of mid-table sides.