The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION
5 things to know about this weekend's Italian league matches
MILAN - Here are five things to know about the Italian league ahead of this weekend's matches:
KAKA ON FIRE
Many people saw Kaka's return to AC Milan as a step backward.
Even some Milan fans were skeptical, amid the euphoria at seeing their former idol come back, and it appeared as if the doubters were to be proved right when Kaka was almost immediately sidelined with injury.
However, the Brazilian has been showing signs of his old form and on Wednesday scored his first goal since returning to Milan — a stunning strike which rolled back the years to his first spell at the club and helped his team to a 1-1 draw against Lazio.
Kaka's last Milan goal before he moved to Real Madrid came in a 2-0 win at Fiorentina on May 31, 2009. Milan hosts Fiorentina on Saturday.
"I'm disappointed with the result," Kaka said. "My goal could have been so much more important. I hope to score other goals which are worth three points."
Newly-promoted Hellas Verona has had a stunning start to the season which has surpassed anyone's expectations.
The team is level on points with fourth-place Inter Milan but coach Andrea Mandorlini is keeping calm.
"Our Scudetto will be Serie A survival," he said. "We are on an important road and we want to continue on it because we are receiving some great satisfaction right now."
Next up for Verona is the visit of struggling Cagliari, which lost to Bologna during the week.
Fiorentina felt it should have been awarded a stoppage-time penalty when Juan Cuadrado was tripped by Napoli's Gokhan Inler, but the referee instead handed the Fiorentina midfielder a second yellow card for diving and sent him off.
Fiorentina lost 2-1 at home to Napoli and Cuadrado — who has scored four goals in 11 matches — will miss this weekend's trip to Milan if the club's appeal is not successful.
Fiorentina will again turn to U.S.-born forward Giuseppe Rossi, who scored a penalty against Napoli to take his tally to nine goals in 10 matches as he continues to prove he is back to his best following two injury-hit years.
Inter Milan will hope to have key defenders Hugo Campagnaro and Walter Samuel back for Sunday's trip to Udinese.
In the past five games without Campagnaro, Inter has let in 10 goals, while it conceded just two in the first five games of the season. Samuel has been out for six months but returned for Tuesday's 1-1 draw at Atalanta.
Inter conceded 57 goals last season, with only Pescara having a worst defence.
Under current Inter coach Walter Mazzarri, Napoli had the second best defence in Serie A, conceding 36 goals.
PIRLO THE PEARL
Veteran Andrea Pirlo has been a revelation since joining Juventus on a free transfer in 2011 after it was decided not to renew his contract at AC Milan.
Pirlo has been key for club and country and a cornerstone of Juventus' success over the past two seasons, helping it to two consecutive Italian league titles.
So influential is the 34-year-old Pirlo that he is the only Serie A player or Italian included on the 23-man shortlist for World Player of the Year.
"We are proud," Juventus general director Giuseppe Marotta said. "We re-launched Pirlo and that fills us with joy."
Pirlo scored with a trademark free kick in Juve's 4-0 win over Catania. Next up is a trip to Parma on Saturday.
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