Inter, Juve look to recover after Euro blows
Having been humbled in midweek by the best team in Europe, the best team in Italy will be looking to bounce back this weekend.
Inter Milan were given a lesson on Tuesday by a Barcelona team that still proved superior despite missing star forwards Lionel Messi and Zlatan Ibrahimovic. But while Inter's UEFA Champions League struggles continue - they have won only three out of 13 games in Europe's premier competition under coach Jose Mourinho - they will look to re-assert their domestic dominance in Florence on Sunday.
But that will not be easy against a team buoyed by their own continental exertions. La Viola may sit sixth in Serie A and already 11 points behind Inter after only 13 games but they secured progress to the UEFA Champions League knock-out stages with a 1-0 defeat of Lyon.
It was the culmination of tangible progress in Europe for Cesare Prandelli's team who a year ago limped out meekly. This time, they have qualified with a game to spare in a group containing English giants Liverpool. However, they are still missing playmaker Adrian Mutu and centre-back Alessandro Gamberini although young Montenegro star Stevan Jovetic could make his injury comeback.
Inter will be trying to refocus following their Barcelona disappointment, and that despite some harsh words from their president ringing in their ears. "We stayed in Milan, it was a wasted trip for me, something like this has never happened before" fumed Massimo Moratti. "Everyone needs to know how to take his own responsibility to do better next time and I'm sure that everyone, Mourinho included, will do so."
Leaders Inter not only need to put their Barca debacle behind them but also not let thoughts of next weekend's crucial clash against second-place Juventus distract them either. Juve, also lost midweek, 2-0 in Bordeaux, and like Inter face a tense all or nothing match in the UEFA Champions League in two weeks time.
Juve travel to Sardinia on Sunday to play Cagliari, who have been in excellent form recently. The Sardinians were edged out in a seven-goal thriller against AC Milan a week ago but before that had won four in a row.
Juve have also been disrupted by perceived criticism of coach Ciro Ferrara by Brazilian playmaker Diego, who was quick to try to clarify his comments on his personal website. Following the defeat in Bordeaux he had said it was up to the coach to identify problems and solve them. "I didn't want to attack the coach, but only explain that the coach has to make the decisions," he said.
Meanwhile AC Milan travel to Catania hoping to improve on their midweek showing at home to Marseille. Marseille twice hit the woodwork in a 1-1 draw that leaves Milan favourites to pip the French in the bid to reach the competitions knock-out rounds.