Inter Milan's revival since the
departure of coach Claudio Ranieri has been so impressive that
they are openly talking of the Champions League, something which
seemed beyond their reach only four weeks ago.
Unbeaten in five games under interim coach Andrea
Stramaccioni, Inter, who were 10 points adrift of a third-placed
finish and a place in the Champions League play-off rounds when
Ranieri left, have reduced the gap to a mere three.
There has even been talk that Stramaccioni, Inter's fifth
coach in the last two seasons, could be given the job
permanently if Inter manage to qualify.
"That's one way to look at it, but it's always good to set
objectives because it's a motivation to constantly do better,"
president Massimo Moratti told the club's website on Thursday.
Inter have an excellent chance to boost their cause on
Sunday when they host already-relegated Cesena at San Siro while their direct rivals all face tough games.
Inter have sneaked up almost unnoticed amid the excitement
at the top where Juventus, unbeaten after 34 games of the
38-match campaign, stayed three points clear of champions AC
Milan after both snatched late wins on Wednesday.
Juventus, who have 74 points, visit relegation battlers
Novara on Sunday while Milan travel to Siena who have moved up to tenth in the table.
Lazio, who are third with 55, visit Udinese, on 52 points alongside Inter after losing 3-1 at home to
Stramaccioni's team on Wednesday.
Napoli, fourth with 54 points, are at AS Roma.
Although Inter are unbeaten under his leadership, having
taken 11 points from a possible 15, Stramaccioni still had to
endure criticism after Sunday's goalless draw at Fiorentina.
"There always seems to be this notion that Inter are
carrying this 'original sin'," said Stramaccioni after
"I heard things which irritated me and I think the lads
responded, especially those who had been particularly targeted
like Wesley Sneijder, Ricardo Alvarez, Esteban Cambiasso and
"I can only talk about what's gone on since I've been in
charge. So I can tell you that Sneijder did everything to come
back as soon as possible... it's only right that we take
responsibility when we lose, but we're still in it and we
"We weren't awful after Florence, nor are we world-beaters
now. From now on, we'll only have Cesena on our minds.
Sunday's game will be big if we want to qualify for the
"We're here and we're alive," said Dejan Stankovic. "The
boss has said that we can do it and we feel the same way as he
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