Friday, 7 August 2009

Beijing set for Supercoppa final

Inter coach Jose Mourinho has warned his players against complacency ahead of Saturday's Supercoppa Italiana final against Lazio at Beijing's iconic Bird's Nest stadium.

Supercoppa Italiana - Beijing 2009The Nerazzurri have lifted the trophy on three of the past four occasions while it has been nine years since Lazio last won it, by beating Inter 4-3.

Mourinho knows it would mean more for the capital club but, with the possibility of equalling AC Milan's record of five Supercoppa titles, he has urged his players to give their all.

"It will be a challenge of motivation," said the Inter boss. "I've also told my players that: we have to have the same motivation, or even more, than Lazio.

"For them it will be an historic game because they have not won this trophy for so long, we are used to winning and so we have to have the same motivation to bring the Supercoppa back to Italy."

Inter captain Javier Zanetti claimed his side will not underestimate Lazio. "We are going to Beijing with the idea of bringing home our first trophy of the season, there are all the ideal conditions to do well," he said.

"It's true in this pre-season we have done a lot of travelling. We hope it does not affect us. We have become accustomed to it.

"Lazio is a team to be respected, they have an intelligent coach and and cause us difficulties, but it will depend on us."

It will be a new-look Inter that take to the pitch, with new boys Samuel Eto'o, Diego Milito, Lucio and Thiago Motta, and without Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Julio Cruz, Maxwell and Luis Figo among others.

Beating the reigning Serie A champions would be a massive boost to Lazio's confidence ahead of the new season. Last season's Coppa Italia winners finished a disappointing 10th in Serie A and Biancocelesti fans will be expecting a vast improvement this campaign under new coach Davide Ballardini.

"For us, the Supercoppa is an important consideration," said Ballardini. "I do not know the condition of Inter, but we are in good shape.

"Our rivals start out as the favourite, given that in recent years, they have shown they are the best team in the Italian championship.

"But we want to do well and will address the match as one of considerable importance."

Captain Tommaso Rocchi added: "It would be great to win and start the new season with a bang.

"We know that it is a difficult encounter but we are doing everything we can to arrive fully prepared.

"The bookmakers see us as underdogs given that Inter is the best side in Italy. We must try and outsmart them, and certainly motivation will play a central part in who lifts the cup."

Lazio are expected to start with Julio Cruz on Saturday night, a player they signed on a free transfer from their opponents this summer.

This will be the fourth time the traditional curtain raiser to the new Italian football league season is played on foreign soil. AC Milan prevailed in Washington (USA) in 1993 and Juventus lifted the trophy in Tripoli (Libya) in 2002 and in New York (USA) in 2003.

However, the setting, date and kick-off time will be extra special for the hosts this time around as the contest will mark the one-year anniversary of the Chinese capital hosting the opening ceremony of the 2008 Olympic Games.

"The date and time have a significant meaning as recognition for the Lega Calcio and Italian football towards the Olympic movement, celebrating the first anniversary of the opening ceremony for the Games of the XXIX Olympiad in Beijing," read a statement released by the Lega Calcio when the venue was confirmed.

The match, to be shown live to millions on Chinese state television, will kick off at 8pm local time. That's 2pm in Italy (and CET) on RAI Uno and 1pm in the UK on ESPN.

Source: Various

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