Inter Milan centre-back Marco Materazzi has said it would be a dream to clinch the Serie A title against AC Milan at the San Siro on Sunday. It is a game being billed as one of the most important derbies of recent years, with both sides desperate for a victory to realise their individual ambitions.
Inter need three more points from their final three matches to ensure they finish the season top of the pile. AC need to win to keep alive their hopes of qualifying for next season's UEFA Champions League as they currently trail fourth-placed Fiorentina by two points.
" ," said Materazzi. "It would make up for many disappointments but we know that we're coming up against a team in great condition who are certainly the favourites as they're playing at home and they're world champions.
"(Milan coach Carlo) Ancelotti maybe has more fear about missing out on the Champions League than we have of losing the title. If we can't win the title on Sunday, touch wood, we still have two more possibilities."
The race for fourth
Defeat could spell disaster for Milan as Fiorentina travel to Sardinia to face Cagliari. La Viola have to quickly overcome the disappointment of losing on penalties to Rangers in Thursday's UEFA Cup semi-final, but if they win and Milan fail to, the race for fourth spot will be as good as over.
Milan's veteran Dutch midfielder Clarence Seedorf is worried that Inter's lesser need of victory could see them play more defensively and make life difficult for Milan. "I think that we will have a different way of looking for the victory to them," he commented. "Inter certainly have better individuals which makes it easier for them to unlock the defence and settle the match in one moment."
Seedorf admitted that the major difference could be made by Fiorentina, who have to find a way of recovering from their European exploits. " ," added the midfielder.
Fiorentina's cause has not been helped either by a season-ending injury to veteran forward Cristian Vieri, who has a muscle problem. The Florence outfit's coach, Cesare Prandelli, has already started working on refocusing his team on their league campaign. "The bitterness is there but we have to look to get past it because now is the time to concentrate on Cagliari," he said.
Win or bust
In an intriguing sub-plot, Sampdoria host Roma, with either side holding the potential to end the other's hopes for the season. I Giallorossi are still dremaing of an unlikely title success but defeat by Samp would end their faint hopes.
Sampdoria sit sixth in the standings, four points behind Fiorentina and two off Milan, but still in with a chance of Champions League football next season. However, defeat to Roma would, barring some unlikely results, end their chances as well.
In the relegation battle things are very tight with seven teams separated by just five points. Livorno, who travel to Atalanta, and Parma, who host Genoa, find themselves in the most precarious positions and defeat for either would leave them with a mountain to climb to escape.