AC Milan is worn out from an extra-time Champions
League win, while Inter Milan is battered and bruised from its European exit to
The city rivals meet in the Milan derby Sunday and the game will also mark the
first time Ronaldo meets his old club since returning to Italy.
Ronaldo transferred to Milan in January from Real Madrid, whom he joined in 2002
after five years with Inter.
The World Cup's all-time leading scorer will be one of Milan's few fully rested
players for the derby. Under UEFA rules, Ronaldo is not allowed to play in the
Champions League for Milan since he started the season with Madrid. He therefore
sat out Wednesday's 120-minute match with Celtic.
Milan owner Silvio Berlusconi has big expectations for the Brazilian.
"Everyone's asking if I'm expecting a (goal). My response is, 'Only one?"'
Kaka scored in the third minute of extra time Wednesday to give Milan a 1-0 win
over Celtic and a spot in the quarterfinals of the Champions League for the
fifth straight year.
"Now, we have a goal to strive for. After the elimination of Barcelona, Real
Madrid and Inter I think Milan should seriously consider itself the favorite,"
Berlusconi said. "We're the club left with the most titles, tradition and class.
"The Milan school has always been the best, not only in Italy, but also in the
Milan trails Inter by 30 points in the Serie A standings after beginning the
season with an eight-point penalty from the Italian match-fixing scandal.
"This goal gives us more motivation for the derby, although Inter will give its
all to win precisely because it was eliminated from the Champions League," Kaka
said. "It will be a great match."
Inter was eliminated by Valencia on away goals Tuesday following two draws. The
Nerazzurri are undefeated in the league with 22 wins and four draws.
"Let's be clear, the more important game was the Valencia one," Inter owner
Massimo Moratti said. "Of course I'm expecting a reaction now, in line with our
performance until now."
In Inter's 2-1 win over Livorno last weekend, Zlatan Ibrahimovic was the star,
scoring one goal and setting up another. The Sweden striker was then criticized
for his lackluster play against Valencia, a game that ended with a brawl.
"It's time to start winning again," Ibrahimovic said. "It's going to be a great
challenge against Milan and when there's a big game it requires a big
Inter striker Adriano should be well rested after sitting out the game against
Under anti-violence measures, the derby will be played in the afternoon, rather
than at night.
Inter holds a 16-point lead on second-place Roma in the standings.
Roma hosts Udinese on Sunday night. The Giallorossi are ecstatic after
eliminating French champion Lyon from the Champions League on Tuesday 2-0 with
goals from captain Francesco Totti and Amantino Mancini.
Defender Christian Chivu broke his nose during the game and is out 20 days.
Udinese snapped Inter's record 17-game winning streak on Feb. 28 but then lost
1-0 to Empoli last weekend.
Roma coach Luciano Spalletti formerly guided Udinese.
Third-place Palermo hosts surging Fiorentina.
Fiorentina was penalized 15 points in the scandal and has moved into seventh
place, within striking distance of earning a UEFA Cup berth for next season. The
Viola feature the league's leading pair of scorers in Luca Toni and Adrian Mutu,
who have produced 27 goals between them this season.
Saturday's game are Siena vs. Ascoli, and Torino vs. Catania.
Sunday's other games are Atalanta vs. Parma, Chievo Verona vs. Messina, Empoli
vs. Livorno, Reggina vs. Lazio and Sampdoria vs. Cagliari.
Juventus, which leads Serie B, visits Brescia on Saturday.