Inter hopes to end Serie A struggles

BY foxsports • April 1, 2010

Inter Milan is almost unbeatable in Europe. In Serie A, however, it's a different story.

Inter has won once in its last five games in the Italian league and holds a one-point lead over AS Roma with seven games remaining. Having edged CSKA Moscow 1-0 in the opening leg of the Champions League quarterfinals - its fourth consecutive victory in Europe - Inter hosts Bologna on Saturday.

Inter's only loss in Europe this season was a 2-0 defeat at Barcelona in November.

"Why is the squad more serene in Europe than the league? Because it's happier," coach Jose Mourinho said after his side beat CSKA. "Why is it not as happy in the league? I don't talk about the league."

Mourinho has responded to a series of multiple-game suspensions this season by not speaking to the press before and after Serie A matches.

Inter was beaten 2-1 by Roma last weekend, with Diego Milito scoring Inter's lone goal and hitting the woodwork twice. Milito also scored the winner against CSKA.

Inter needs the Argentine to continue his scoring streak against Bologna, not least because strike partner Samuel Eto'o is suspended.

Inter's title chances have been hurt by a lack of discipline. Centre back Lucio, right back Maicon and captain Javier Zanetti are also suspended after picking up yellow cards during the Roma game.

Zanetti will snap a 137-game streak of playing in Serie A and Champions League games. "I'm going to rest on Saturday - finally," Zanetti said.

Playmaker Wesley Sneijder could also miss the game after hurting his left ankle late in the CSKA game. Making a possible return to the squad after being dropped for six games is 19-year-old forward Mario Balotelli, who reportedly met with Mourinho on Thursday to settle their differences after a series of public rows.

Roma travels to Bari on a high after beating Inter and is hoping for its first title since 2000-01.

"The fans should start dreaming, but we can't," Roma coach Claudio Ranieri said. "We've really got to keep our feet on the ground and focus on these next seven games. We're starting to head down the final straight, but it's a very long straight."

Roma captain Francesco Totti is set to return to the starting lineup after a series of injuries and play alongside strikers Mirko Vucinic and Luca Toni, who scored the winner against Inter.

Inter leads the league with 63 points, Roma has 62 and AC Milan is third with 60. All this weekend's games are being played Saturday due to the Easter holidays.

Milan visits a dangerous Cagliari side led by Massimiliano Allegri - one of the top young coaches in Italy and a possible successor to national team coach Marcello Lippi.

Fourth-place Palermo, hoping to hold onto the final Champions League spot, visits Catania in a Sicilian derby. It's three years since the death of a policeman in riots following the same matchup led to the suspension of all Serie A games.

Juventus, three points out of the Champions League places, visits an Udinese side coming off a 4-1 loss to Fiorentina.

Also Saturday, it's: Atalanta vs. Siena; Chievo Verona vs. Sampdoria; Genoa vs. Livorno; Lazio vs. Napoli; and Parma vs. Fiorentina.

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