MILAN - New Inter Milan coach Leonardo
and AC Milan signing Antonio Cassano face difficult debuts on
Thursday when Serie A's resumption from a mid-season break
will feel more like the start to the campaign.
Former AC Milan boss Leonardo, the shock choice to replace
the departed Rafael Benitez, takes charge of stuttering
champions Inter for the first time in the home clash with
Inter's victory in the Club World Cup in December means
they have two games in hand but have slipped down to seventh,
13 points behind leaders Milan.
Leonardo needs a good result against in-form Napoli to
silence doubters who still cannot comprehend how a Milan
mainstay, far from successful in his one term in charge of the
Rossoneri last season, can become coach of their biggest rivals.
"This challenge was too great to resist, and unexpected,
and I just couldn't refuse," Leonardo told reporters. "It
won't be quite like starting again, because this team is
already a reality."
The Brazilian takes over with Inter in better health than
they were during Benitez's torrid six-month reign, which ended
last month after his public outburst about a lack of signings.
Their injury crisis is all but over, confidence has
returned thanks to World Club Cup win and Leonardo has already
done one better than Benitez by being given a reinforcement in
the shape of Genoa centre-back Andrea Ranocchia.
In contrast to Inter, Leonardo's former team Milan look
more brittle than at any time this term and numbers are
limited for the trip to coach Massimiliano Allegri's ex-side
Cagliari on the bank holiday.
Top striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic is suspended, Alexandre
Pato is feeling his way back after over a month out with thigh
problems and Robinho needed stitches in his leg after
colliding with a television camera in a Dubai friendly this
Pato and Robinho are expected to play but with the
struggling Ronaldinho seemingly heading back to Brazil, new
signing Antonio Cassano is still likely to be called upon
despite not looking fully match fit in the Dubai friendly win.
The Italy forward had not played since October, when he
was suspended by Sampdoria for swearing at the club president
before being sold to Milan now the January transfer window has
Third-placed Lazio travel to Genoa and Juventus, in
fourth, have Leonardo Bonucci suspended and Vincenzo Iaquinta
out injured for the visit of Parma.
Central defender fit enough to play in the Champions League final at Wembley
Bayern Munich unfazed by the need to be more clinical in attack against Borussia Dortmund
Ruud Gullit believes Bayern Munich are in for a shock when they take on Borussia Dortmund
Napoli president denies reports that he has named Rafael Benitez as club's new manager
Ten years on, the legends speak to FFT
Your questions answered by an A to Z of legends
75% of all TV is Bale
On the road to ruin
Nike CR7 IX for you
FourFourTwo is brought to you by Haymarket Consumer Media & FourFourTwo is part of Haymarket Sport
| International Licensing | © Haymarket Media Group 2010