Sat, Aug 25, 2007 - Page 18 News List

Rome clubs look to claim Scudetto

AFP, ROME

Rome-based sides AS Roma and Lazio will be looking to wrest the Scudetto back from the stranglehold of their northern rivals as the Italian championship gets underway this weekend.

The Serie A looks set for a hotly-contested battle this season after the fallout from the Italian match-fixing scandal which marred last year's competition.

Inter Milan won the title for the second straight year at a canter after also being declared champions for previous season when Juventus were stripped of their crown.

AS Roma were the last side outside the industrialized north to win the title when they claimed the Scudetto in 2001, the year after Lazio won the championship.

Last season's runners-up Roma missed an opportunity to bring the title back with Juventus demoted to the Serie B and Fiorentina, Lazio, AC Milan, Reggina and Siena all starting the season with points deductions.

But AS Roma served notice of their intentions for this term as they followed up their Italian Cup victory with a Super Cup win over defending champions Inter Milan last weekend.

Lazio, who finished third, kick-off their season at home today against Torino, who missed the drop last season by just one point, with Roma travelling to Sicily to take on Palermo tomorrow evening.

Being the only team to beat Inter last season with their 3-1 victory at the San Siro, and their Cup wins has left Roma coach Luciano Spalletti in optimistic form.

"The wind has changed. Now Roma can go to the San Siro and be the number one team to beat this season," Spalletti said.

Juventus coach Claudio Ranieri has high hopes for his side who have been boosted by a 57 million euro (US$77 million) spending spree as they start their season back in the top flight at home today against Livorno, who finished 11th last season.

Inter Milan kick-off off their title defense at the San Siro against Udinese tomorrow as European champions AC Milan, fresh from signing Brazilian midfielder Emerson from Real Madrid, travel to promoted Genoa.

Promoted Napoli host Cagliari as Fiorentina, fifth last season, face a potentially tricky tie against Empoli.

Elsewhere Parma host Catania, Sampdoria travel to Siena and Reggina are at home to Atalanta.

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