Inter Milan take on AS Roma

Inter Milan and AS Roma meet in the Italian Supercup on Sunday in an early matchup between two of the favorites for the Serie A title.

updated: August 18, 2007 06:57 IST
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Inter Milan and AS Roma meet in the Italian Supercup on Sunday in an early matchup between two of the favorites for the Serie A title.

The Supercup, which is Italy's traditional season opener, pits last season's league champion against the winner of the Italian Cup.

Inter won its 15th Serie A title in May. Roma, which finished second in Italy's top division, beat the Nerazzurri for the Italian Cup in the same month.

The Serie A season kicks off Aug 25.

In last year's Supercup, Inter rallied from a three-goal deficit to win 4-3 over Roma.

Inter coach Roberto Mancini is confident of lifting the trophy for the third time in as many seasons.

"The team is in form and we don't have any problems in particular," Mancini said. "We will certainly be in good condition for our first competitive game."

Mancini's only concern is which players to select for the game at the San Siro.

"I still haven't decided, but I will clearly have to take into consideration those who have started their preparation earlier," Mancini said.

Mancini has tried out various defensive combinations this week. Marco Materazzi is almost certain to start in central defense and could be partnered by Ivan Cordoba, Nicolas Burdisso is expected to play right back, while Cristian Chivu, who transferred from Roma in the offseason, could play on the left.

Olivier Dacourt anchored Inter's midfield in a training session on Thursday, with Patrick Vieira and captain Javier Zanetti taking wider roles, and Dejan Stankovic sitting behind the strikers.

Honduras forward David Suazo, recently signed from Cagliari, is expected to partner Zlatan Ibrahimovic up front.

Roma is depleted by injuries, particularly in defense.

New Brazilian signing Juan and reserve defender Matteo Ferrari are not fit, meaning that Christian Panucci will have to move from right back to partner France defender Philippe Mexes in central defense.

"Panucci has already played centrally and has experience," Mexes said. "Then it will depend on all the team."

Mexes perhaps should be more concerned. Roma has conceded 13 goals in five friendlies this month.

"We have to give the maximum to stop their strikers," Mexes said. "We have faith. We're going to Milan to win and do our best."

Midfielder David Pizarro, who used to play for Inter, is also injured but Roma is better stocked in that department.

If Roma coach Luciano Spalletti retains his favored 4-3-2-1 formation, Francesco Totti will likely spearhead the attack and be supported by a midfield containing Amantino Mancini, Daniele De Rossi, Rodrigo Taddei, Simone Perrotta and newly signed Ludovic Giuly.