Ranieri hasn't given up on Italian title

April 3, 2008

MILAN, April 3 (Reuters) - Juventus coach Claudio Ranieri refuses to count out a late bid for the Serie A title despite his side lying 11 points behind leaders Inter Milan.

Third-placed Juve have a game in hand on Inter and second-placed AS Roma after last weekend's match with Parma was postponed following the death of a fan on his way to the game.

With eight games left, including Sunday's late game at Palermo (1830), Ranieri believes his side still have a chance.

'Results come when you aim high. Until the maths exclude it, I will still believe,' Ranieri told Thursday's Gazzetta dello Sport. 'Certainly other squads must lose the title, but it has happened before.'

Juve, back in the top flight after spending last season in Serie B because of Italy's match-fixing scandal, won 2-1 at Inter two weeks ago and are in better form than both the champions and Roma.

Inter have seen their lead cut to four points from 11 in mid-February after injury problems, Champions League elimination to Liverpool and speculation surrounding the future of coach Roberto Mancini.

They were fortunate to come away with a 1-1 draw at Lazio last weekend but have key midfielder Esteban Cambiasso back for Sunday's trip to Atalanta (1300).

Striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic is struggling with a nagging knee problem, however, and Inter fans are banned from travelling to the game because of security reasons.

Roma host Genoa on Saturday (1600) and must shrug off the disappointment of losing 2-0 at home to Manchester United in Tuesday's Champions League quarter-final first leg.

Francesco Totti is almost certainly out as he bids to recover from a thigh problem in time for the second leg at Old Trafford.

Troubled AC Milan, who lie sixth, are also at home on Saturday when they take on strugglers Cagliari (1830).

Last weekend's 2-1 defeat by Atalanta was their fourth home league loss this season and the San Siro faithful are quickly losing patience.

Milan have said Carlo Ancelotti's job is safe even if the European champions have to go into the UEFA Cup next season.

They are four points adrift of fourth-placed Fiorentina, who occupy the final Champions League qualifying spot and host relegation-threatened Reggina on Sunday (1300).