PREVIEW-Soccer-Inter's Ibrahimovic eyes comeback for finale
MILAN May 15 (Reuters) - Inter Milan striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic could at least make the bench for Sunday's thrilling season finale, where a win at relegation-threatened Parma would hand Inter the Serie A title.
Second-placed AS Roma, a point behind the defending champions, will snatch the scudetto if they beat struggling Catania in Sicily and Inter fail to win. If Inter lose and Roma draw, Inter will prevail due to a better head-to-head record.
Inter have blown an 11-point lead they had in February and the possible return of leading scorer Ibrahimovic will be a welcome boost after a month and a half out with a knee injury.
Roberto Mancini's side wasted opportunities to retain their title with a defeat by AC Milan two weekends ago and last Sunday's 2-2 home draw with Siena.
The nervous club have imposed a near press blackout this week, with Ibrahimovic's return to fitness a rare bit of news.
Influential midfielder Esteban Cambiasso will miss the big clash through injury with defender Cristian Chivu a doubt.
By contrast, Roma have no new injury worries for the trip to Catania with Francesco Totti and Rodrigo Taddei having been ruled out for the season a few weeks ago.
Captain Totti has still tried to make his presence felt by beginning the mind games, stating that Inter will easily take the title. Brazilian team mate Cicinho is not so sure.
"I don't know what the Inter players think. I know they are under a lot of pressure. We are very concentrated and feel good. So I'm convinced Roma will win the scudetto," he said.
The two matches have extra importance because of Parma and Catania's troubles at the bottom of the table.
Third-bottom Parma, who occupy the final relegation place, are two points behind fourth-bottom Catania and must beat Inter to have any chance.
Parma, the 1995 and 1999 UEFA Cup winners, sacked former Inter coach Hector Cuper on Monday and replaced him with youth team boss Andrea Manzo for this one crunch match. He will have to do without three suspended players and a lengthy injury list.
Catania, managed by former Inter goalkeeping great Walter Zenga, realistically need just a draw against Roma to stay up because their goal difference is six better than Parma with the head-to-heads equal.
Second-from-bottom Empoli, three behind Catania, can still escape if they beat already-relegated Livorno at home, Parma fail to win and Catania lose.
The other issue to be decided on Sunday is the fourth and final Champions League qualifying place. Fiorentina, who travel to Torino, are two points ahead of last season's European champions AC Milan, who host Udinese.
Sixth-placed Sampdoria are already assured of a UEFA Cup place with Udinese in seventh grabbing the final spot as Champions League-bound Inter and Roma meet in the Italian Cup final on May 24.
Udinese do not yet have a license for European games but are expected to secure one shortly. (Editing by John O'Brien)
- Tweet this
- Share this
- Digg this