italy preview

Serie A: Ranieri in a quandry as Inter eye title

May 7, 2009

Juventus coach Claudio Ranieri has a catch-22 situation on Sunday -- beat AC Milan and possibly hand rivals Inter the title, or lose at the San Siro and leave his job on the line.

The demanding Juve fans, who despise Inter more than any team, will be furious either way and can only hope Inter waste a possible opportunity by failing to win at Chievo (1300 GMT).

But if Jose Mourinho's side grab a victory in Verona, defeat for second-placed Milan in the late game (1930) will make Inter champions as they will be 10 points clear with three games left.

Media have speculated that Ranieri will be sacked at the end of the season whatever happens on Sunday after Juve failed to win their last five league games and dropped out of the title race.

Reports have said there was a dressing room mutiny at halftime of last weekend's 2-2 home draw with lowly Lecce but club chief executive Jean Claude Blanc has tried to take the sting out of the situation.

"It is normal when matches go wrong and top players do not manage to give their maximum, they feel frustrated and there can be moments of tension, which are down to the will to do well and give more," he told Sky.

Pavel Nedved, expected to retire at the end of the season, is banned from Sunday's game alongside defender Olof Mellberg while the match will be Milan captain Paolo Maldini's last against Juve before he retires at the end of May.

Juve are already planning for next season with media reports saying they have all but signed Werder Bremen playmaker Diego.

Inter, seemingly assured of a fourth straight scudetto for weeks, have also started thinking ahead with the future of top striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic the key issue.

The club have a chance on Sunday to find out what it would be like without the Swede, who is suspended.

Fourth-bottom Torino host third-bottom Bologna on Sunday (1300) in the big relegation clash.