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Preview : Milan vs Sampdoria

Milan vs Sampdoria

Coach Luigi Del Neri ahead of the match against Milan:

"At the moment I think Milan are the most in-form team of the league: they are doing very well and Leonardo has found an ideal tactical situation to use the players he has in the best way. I ask my lads to go on the pitch without any negative thoughts, and find back the courage and carefree mentality of the start of the season, considering also that to face a team like Milan you have to give the maximum, both in terms of concentration and physical energy."

Gianluca Zambrotta is hoping Klaas-Jan Huntelaar's match-winning contribution against Catania will prove a watershed moment for the Dutch striker.

Huntelaar, who joined the Rossoneri after a modest spell with Real Madrid last season, failed to find the net in his first seven outings but made a decisive contribution against Catania, scoring two stoppage-time goals just minutes after coming on as a substitute.

Now Zambrotta is hoping for more of the same from the Holland forward, who may have forced his way into the starting XI for tomorrow's home clash with Sampdoria.

Zambrotta, 32, told Milan Channel: "Let's hope that these two goals are a good omen for him, that he unblocked himself and that he can help us during this season.

"It is a fundamental and difficult season, with the many commitments which await us and he will be important.''

It is a crucial weekend at the top of Serie A, with leaders Inter Milan facing third-placed Juventus in the weekend's big match.

Victory over Catania, coupled with an Inter defeat, could lift Leonardo's side to within four points of top spot - a position they could only have wished for during the difficult start to life under the Brazilian coach.

But, with four straight wins coming into the Catania match, Huntelaar believes the title race is back on.

"League titles are not claimed in November or December,'' said the striker. "We still have time to catch Inter and we hope Juve hand us a favour on Sunday.''

Zambrotta echoed those sentiments, urging his team-mates not to lose their current momentum.

"We have to keep the will to win, to continue to remain in the top positions. We are in a good phase but we must continue to go forward in this very good condition which has come out during this period,'' he said.

"Sunday's win arrived in the final two minutes of the match, we managed to reach second place. This is what we wanted and now the important thing will be to continue at this pace.

"We know that Sampdoria are a very good team, they have players who can make the difference at any moment and I think that it will be a well fought game until the end.''

Sampdoria head into the clash reeling from two painful defeats in the space of just four days.

The first of those saw them slump to a morale-sapping 3-0 defeat to city rivals Genoa before being knocked out of the Coppa Italia by two late goals from Livorno.

Manager Luigi Del Neri admitted his side had plenty to learn from those defeats and will hope they can apply those lessons sooner rather than later.

"We have a young team,'' said Del Neri. "We have lads who still don't know what it means to play in Serie A.

"I think this defeat will be useful for my team in the future.

"However, I am disappointed for the fans. I hope we can give them satisfaction in the future.''