Inter Milan’s robust center-back Marco Materazzi said it would be a dream to sew up the Serie A title in today’s crunch derby against AC Milan at the San Siro.
It is a game being billed as one of the most important derbies of recent years, with both sides desperate for a victory to realize 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 Champions League as they currently trail Fiorentina in fourth spot by two points.
“It’s the dream for everyone involved to win the title in the derby,” Materazzi said. “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 favorites 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.”
Defeat could spell disaster for Milan as Fiorentina travel to Sardinia to face Cagliari.
Fiorentina 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,” Seedorf said. “Inter certainly have better individuals which makes it easier for them to unlock the defense and settle the match in one moment.”
Fiorentina’s cause has not been helped either by a season-ending injury to veteran forward Cristian Vieri, who has a muscle problem.
In an intriguing sub-plot, Sampdoria host AS Roma, with either side holding the potential to end the other’s hopes for the season.
Roma are still dreaming of an unlikely title success, but defeat to Samp would end their faint hopes.
Samp sit sixth in the league, four points behind Fiorentina and two off Milan, but still in with a chance of Champions League soccer 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 play host to Genoa, find themselves in the most precarious positions and defeat for either would leave them with more than a mountain to climb to escape.