Sunday 4 May 2008

San Siro set for derby showdown

Sunday 4 May 2008 could end up being an unforgettable day for Inter. Beating city rivals AC Milan in the derby would mean a third Serie A title in as many seasons for the Nerazzurri, but Milan will be determined to prevent that from happening as the European champions look to book a place in next season's club showcase.

Taking the Scudetto with a win against Milan in the Derby della Madonnina is the stuff of fantasy for many Inter fans, but it could be a reality by Sunday afternoon.

Victory would ensure they maintain their six-point advantage over second-place Roma, who visit Sampdoria, and since they have a superior head-to-head record in their games against Luciano Spalletti's side, the title would be theirs.

Roberto Mancini, however, is hoping that the derby dream will not overshadow the serious task at hand.

"Our target is to win the title, no matter when," said the coach, whose side visit Lazio in the Coppa Italia semi-final second leg on Wednesday, after drawing 0-0 in the home fixture.

"I hope we get the result we need against Milan but if we don't we'll try to hit the target in the last two matches."

Mancini will be well aware of how important the derby is for Milan, who are still two points adrift of Fiorentina in the race for the fourth and final UEFA Champions League berth in Serie A.

Nine goals in back-to-back wins against Reggina and Livorno are a measure of the sharp upturn in Rossoneri performances in recent weeks, and Carlo Ancelotti is feeling buoyant.

"We love these kinds of games and we are used to playing them," said the Milan coach as he focused on the San Siro clash.

"I think Inter want to win the title as soon as possible as surprises are always around the corner in football. However, only a win will suffice for us. This is not a Champions League final, but the atmosphere and pressure will be the same and we are prepared for it.

"The future is in our hands," he added. "For many of the Milan players, there is a huge difference between Champions League and UEFA Cup football and we want to play in the former competition next season."

Victory against Inter would not redeem a difficult season for Milan or put Inter's title in huge peril, but making life difficult for the Nerazzurri could yet have important side-effects.

Source: UEFA

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