Inter Milan closing in on Serie A title

April 24, 2008

ROME, Apr 24 (Reuters) - Inter Milan will retain their Serie A title this Sunday if they beat Cagliari and second-placed AS Roma lose at home to Torino.

This would put Roberto Mancini's side nine points clear with three games to go, an unassailable advantage thanks to their better head to head record over Roma this term.

Victories for both title-chasers this weekend would still give Inter the chance to wrap up the championship the following week in the derby with city rivals AC Milan.

An Inter triumph would be their third successive scudetto, although the 2006 title was awarded to them in a court following table-topping Juventus's demotion for match-fixing and other points deductions.

Last season's romp to the title was made easier by Juve playing in Serie B and Milan having an eight point deduction.

Roma captain Francesco Totti, out for four months after injuring his knee in Saturday's 1-1 draw with lowly Livorno, this week said he was "99 per cent" certain the title is lost.

However, Cagliari visit the San Siro in fine fettle after lifting themselves off the bottom of the table and out of the relegation zone with 20 points from their last 11 games.

The Sardinians, though, will be without defender Francesco Pisano and suspended midfielders Michele Fini and Pasquale Foggia.

Midfielder Patrick Vieira returns from suspension for Inter, but they are still without injured striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who is receiving treatment in Sweden for a knee injury.

Roma will be wary against struggling Torino, who were unlucky to lose 1-0 at home to Inter last week in Gianni De Biasi's first game of his third spell in charge.

Third-placed Juventus are five behind Roma and have their eyes on snatching second spot and an automatic Champions League berth in their first season back in the top flight.

A draw at home to mid-table Lazio will be enough to ensure a place in the Champions League qualifiers next season.

Lazio will miss captain Luciano Zauri and suspended midfielders Ousmane Dabo and Cristian Ledesma.

Fiorentina, without banned striker Giampaolo Pazzini, will try to consolidate their hold on fourth place and Italy's final Champions League qualifying slot by beating sixth-placed Sampdoria at home.

The visitors also have Champions League ambitions after Sunday's 3-0 win over rivals Udinese.

Fifth-placed AC Milan, who like Samp are four points behind Fiorentina, need to win at relegation-threatened Livorno to keep alive their hopes of qualifying for the competition they have won seven times.

All of this weekend's games will be played at the same time (1300 GMT) on Sunday, standard practice in Italy for the last four games of the season.