Italy - Senegalese international Kalidou Koulibaly and Napoli return
to the San Siro on Saturday, a month after racism and violence overshadowed the
team's Boxing Day match against Inter Milan, for the first of a Serie A and
Coppa Italia double-header against AC Milan.
Carlo Ancelotti's side play an Italian league game against
AC Milan this weekend before returning to the San Siro next Tuesday for a Coppa
quarter-final showdown against Gennaro Gattuso's side.
Franco-Senegalese defender Koulibaly was targeted by monkey
noises and racist chants during the 1-0 defeat to Inter on December 26 and has
not played since having been hit with a two-match ban for sarcastically
applauding referee Paolo Mazzoleni.
Ancelotti has warned that he will lead his team off the
pitch the next time one of his players is subject to continued racist abuse.
The game was also overshadowed by the death of 39-year-old
ultra Inter Milan supporter Daniele Belardinelli who was killed when he was
struck by a car in clashes before kick-off.
The funeral of Belardinelli, who had been banned from the
San Siro between 2007 and 2017 for violence, will take place on Friday.
Five Inter Milan fans remain in prison as the investigation
However Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini said there
would be no restrictions for Saturday's game, either for tickets sales, or
access to the stadium.
Salvini said the decision was made "focusing on common
sense, the responsibility and correctness of Milan and Napoli supporters, as
well as the professionalism of the police forces."
"We do not want to remove the right to healthy fun of
the vast majority of respectable fans," said Salvini, a passionate AC
Salvini added: "Obviously, in case of any public order
problems, I will act accordingly."
On the pitch second-placed Napoli desperately need a win to
possibly avoid falling 12 points behind unbeaten Juventus who travel to Lazio
Napoli have lost just one of their last 15 games against AC
AC Milan's new Polish signing Krzysztof Piatek may be given
a run-out but Gattuso could opt for him to make his debut in the Coppa Italia
three days later.
Piatek -- who has scored 19 goals in his first season for
Genoa -- replaced Argentine striker Gonzalo Higuain who headed for Chelsea.
"I was an AC Milan fan as a kid, it was my dream to
play here and to be working with such legends as Leonardo and Paolo
Maldini," Piatek said at his presentation Thursday.
"I will do everything I can to help AC Milan get back
into the Champions League."
'It can be done'
Gattuso's side occupy the final Champions League berth,
ahead of Roma who are one point behind in fifth and Lazio, who are a further
point behind in sixth.
Just four points separate Milan and eighth-placed Sampdoria
in a tight race to qualify for Europe's premier club competition.
Champions Juventus travel to Rome's Stadio Olimpico to take
on Lazio, who they beat 2-0 in Turin earlier in the campaign, and who have
taken just a point from their last two games.
Lazio ace Ciro Immobile, who has scored 14 goals this
season, insists this will be the weekend when Juventus will suffer their first
defeat of the season.
"We've been able to beat them in recent seasons,"
warned Immobile. "If we give something extra and have a bit of luck, it
can be done."
Juventus have, however, won eight of their last nine games
Inter Milan, in third, head for Torino after being held to a
goalless draw against Sassuolo, the second of their two matches behind closed
doors as punishment for the Koulibaly racist abuse.