League return for upset Italians

After Italian teams disappointed in European competition in midweek, it is back to domestic action with weekend, with Inter Milan out to maintain their nine-point lead in Serie A.

The UEFA Champions League did not prove a happy hunting ground for the country's three remaining representatives as they failed to score a goal between them. Roma lost 1-0 to Arsenal and Juventus went down by the same score at Chelsea. Only Inter staved off defeat in a 0-0 draw with Manchester United, which, in truth, could easily have ended in a heavy loss.

Now Jose Mourinho's side need to quickly forget Tuesday's game, in which they were largely dominated, and readapt to their position as kings of Italy. They host Roma in the plum tie of the weekend, and they will be keen to reassert their domestic authority.

Juve and AC Milan will be there or thereabouts right up until the end but we've got the title in our hands.
Inter Milan's Esteban Cambiasso

Despite being out of the title race, the capital outfit do at least have qualification for next season's Champions League to play for, and they currently trail fourth-placed Fiorentina by just a single point.

And Inter's Argentinian midfielder Esteban Cambiasso is under no illusions that the champions still face a tough task to hold on to their lead. "Juve and AC Milan will be there or thereabouts right up until the end but the standings are very telling, we've got the title in our hands," he said.

But having dominated Serie A for the last three years, Cambiasso denied there was a mental block for his team when it comes to the Champions League. They have been far from their best in that competition, losing to Werder Bremen and Panathinaikos in the group stage before finishing as runners-up to the Greeks this season.

"You have to play in a different way in the Champions League, we have no psychological problem," he insisted. "But we need more of the ball and we need to create more scoring opportunities (in Europe)."

Cambiasso himself has seen his role within the team change since Jose Mourinho took over from Roberto Mancini as coach. The Portuguese has used the 28-year-old at the base of his midfield diamond formation, and that has meant the former Real Madrid player has had to adapt.

"I get forward into the opposition area a lot less now," he added. "In previous years I played a lot further forward and (Javier) Zanetti was the one who watched my back."

Inter have already beaten Roma three times this season. They won the Italian Super Cup on penalties, knocked I Giallorossi out of the Italian Cup thanks to a 2-1 win at the San Siro in January, and overwhelmed them 4-0 in Rome back in October.

Juve ready to capitalise
However, were Inter to slip up, Juventus could be poised to close the gap as they host Napoli, who have not won in eight matches. Edoardo Reja's team were among the early pacesetters in Serie A, but have fallen dramatically by the wayside and are struggling to stay in contention with those chasing European football next term.

AC Milan, who slumped out of the UEFA Cup to Werder Bremen on Thursday, travel to Sampdoria, who were also knocked out of Europe by Metalist Kharkiv. With Fiorentina also losing at Ajax, only Udinese progressed to the last 16.

Milan's title aspirations all but ended two weeks ago, when they were beaten 2-1 by Inter. Their aim now is simply to remain in the top three to ensure they go straight into the Champions League group stages next season.

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