Soccer

5 things to know about the Italian league

MILAN (AP) — Here are five things to know about Serie A ahead of this weekend's matches:

__ YOUTH FOR JUVE Juventus will be cheered on by thousands of children when it welcomes Udinese on Sunday looking to reinforce its lead at the top of the table. The sectors behind each goal at the Juventus Stadium, normally populated by ultras, will instead by filled by 6,400 children. Kick-off has been brought forward to 1830 local time (1730 GMT).

The punishment was inflicted for insulting territorial chants in a 3-0 win over Napoli. Both curves will be closed against Udinese, while the southern end of the stadium will also be closed against Sassuolo on Dec. 14.

Juventus took over first place last week with a fifth consecutive victory and will be full of confidence after beating FC Copenhagen 3-1 in the Champions League on Wednesday.

TANK PRANK

Security will be reinforced in the city of Bergamo and at the stadium ahead of Roma's match at Atalanta.

There has always been a strong rivalry between the two clubs but tensions were exacerbated by the recent tank prank. Atalanta midfielder Guilio Migliaccio was onboard a tank, driven by Atalanta fans at the supporters' annual preseason festival in Bergamo, that drove over two cars decorated in the colors of rival teams Brescia and Roma.

Roma has stalled of late following a fantastic start to the season. After becoming the first Serie A club to win its opening 10 matches, it then was held to three straight draws.

"Our strength is that we have controlled and won matches one after the other," Roma coach Rudi Garcia said. "That gave us a desire to continue playing well. We could have also won our last three matches, I think.

"We're second and only a point behind Juve, who like us has had a more than exceptional start to the season. Our aim remains getting into Europe."

MILAN TURNAROUND

AC Milan is hoping its Champions League victory over Celtic will serve as a turnaround in a so far miserable season.

Milan is without a win in its past five league games and has slipped to 13th in the Serie A table, 14 points off the Champions League spots and only four away from the bottom three.

Kaka inspired a 3-0 victory in Glasgow on Tuesday, scoring the first goal to help Milan to its first away win in any competition this season. The former Real Madrid midfielder was given a standing ovation by the entire stadium.

"This victory has given us confidence," Kaka said. "Now we have a difficult match against Catania and it is important to get back to winning ways in the league to get out of this uncomfortable situation.

"We had to win against Celtic, it was fundamental to break the series of awful results. The result was a bit of a surprise, I wasn't expecting it but in the end 3-0 was the right result. We deserved it."

Mario Balotelli, who missed a penalty in Saturday's 1-1 draw with 10-man Genoa and had gone six matches in all competitions without a goal, also scored.

The match could also see the return of Italy forward Stephan El Shaarawy, who hasn't played for Milan since the beginning of September after injuring his foot in training.

NAGATOMO HONORED

Inter Milan defender Yuto Nagatomo was named Asian Player of the Year this week.

"I'm happy and honored to have received this award, but it's not just for me," the Japan international said. "I have to thank all of my teammates who allow me to play to my best level, as well as the fans who support me.

"I still have to improve a lot and I'll work very hard to do so as I have to progress."

Inter, which is fourth in the table, hosts relegation-threatened Sampdoria on Sunday.

NEGATIVE NAPOLI

Napoli was level with Juventus at the start of the month but has now slipped to third, six points behind the Bianconeri.

The team also lost 3-1 at Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League on Tuesday to extend its losing streak to three matches in all competitions.

On Monday, Napoli travels to Lazio, where it has not won since 2008.

Lazio is also on a negative streak and has won only one of its past eight league matches.

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