Milan at Napoli matches the Pharaoh vs. El Matador
ROME (AP) -It will be a battle of top nicknames when two of Serie A's leading scorers go head-to-head as struggling AC Milan visits Napoli this weekend.
Milan's Stephen El Shaarawy and Napoli's Edinson Cavani have eight goals apiece and are even with Roma's Erik Lamela atop the scoring chart through 12 rounds. The son of an Egyptian father and an Italian mother, the 20-year-old El Shaarawy is known as "il Faraone'' - the Pharaoh - while Cavani, an Uruguayan, goes by "El Matador.''
Napoli is third, five points behind leader Juventus and one point behind Inter Milan, while Milan is tied for 12th, 17 points behind.
Also this weekend, Juventus hosts in-form Lazio, which beat Roma in last weekend's derby. Inter faces mid-table Cagliari.
Both El Shaarawy and Cavani scored for their countries in international friendlies Wednesday. El Shaarawy's goal in a 2-1 loss to France was his first for Italy, while Cavani's goal helped Uruguay beat Poland 3-1.
El Shaarawy dedicated his goal to Milan president and former Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi.
"I told him before the match that I wanted to dedicate a goal and a victory to him. I got half of it, it was just too bad the goal didn't help us win,'' El Shaarawy said. "I'm sure Milan will bounce back. I'm excited about the matchup with Cavani. I'm ready.''
Cavani has scored six goals in his last three matches matches with Napoli, including all four in a 4-2 comeback win over Ukrainian side Dnipro in the Europa League last week.
In less than three full seasons with Napoli, Cavani has scored 80 goals in all competitions, placing him sixth on the club's all-time scoring list. He's on pace to catch Diego Maradona, who holds the club record with 115 goals. Brazil great Careca is No. 5 on the list with 96 goals.
"Slowly but surely I'm going to catch them,'' Cavani said.
Maradona and Careca led Napoli to its only two Serie A titles in 1987 and 1990 and the southern club is hoping Cavani can bring more glory.
"I believed in Edy since the start,'' Napoli manager Walter Mazzarri said. "I hoped he would become a top player.''
Mazzarri was recently checked for a heart problem and has said he will consider taking a year-long sabbatical after this season due to excessive stress.
Milan lost 3-1 at home to Fiorentina last weekend for its sixth loss in 12 matches, again raising questions over coach Massimiliano Allegri's job status. But Berlusconi reportedly met with club vice president Adriano Galliani after the match and decided to keep Allegri.
Milan's defense proved nearly inexistant against Fiorentina and has more problems heading into the contest at Napoli's San Paolo Stadium.
Center back Daniele Bonera has been ruled out for a month with a left thigh muscle tear and fullbacks Ignazio Abate and Luca Antonini are also still out, both also with leg muscle injuries. Another center back, Philippe Mexes, had one of the worst matches of his career against Fiorentina.
Also, Milan captain Massimo Ambrosini is suspended.
Still regaining his form from a two-month injury layoff, striker Alexandre Pato missed a penalty against Fiorentina.
"If I get the chance again versus Napoli I'll shoot another penalty,'' Pato said. "I'm a penalty shooter.''
Meanwhile, Juventus could welcome back emerging midfielder Paul Pogba, who was suspended by coach Antonio Conte last weekend, reportedly for showing up late to training twice.
Also, Juventus winger Simone Pepe is ready to return from injury.
Lazio is fifth, nine points behind Juventus, and is fighting for third place and a spot in the final round of Champions League playoffs.
Fiorentina is fourth, seven points behind, and first-year coach Vincenzo Montella has been trying to tone down the enthusiasm over his club, which changed nearly its entire starting lineup in the offseason - with the exception of playmaker Stevan Jovetic, who missed the victory over Milan with a minor injury.
Fiorentina next faces Atalanta, which beat Inter 3-2 last weekend.
Roma hosts Torino on Monday hoping to bounce back from the derby loss, but will be without midfielder Daniele De Rossi, who was banned for three matches for punching Lazio's Stefano Mauri.
Also this weekend, Genoa meets Sampdoria in a derby featuring two clubs on long losing streaks. Sampdoria has lost its last seven matches and Genoa its last five.
In other matches, it's: Bologna vs. Palermo; Catania vs. Chievo Verona; Siena vs. Pescara; and Udinese vs. Parma.
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