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Juve playing for pride not title

Serie A's top two come face to face in an epic battle at Turin's Stadio Olimpico on Saturday with only seven matches left until the end of the season. The scene should have been set for a massive title decider but instead the whole event risks turning into a damp squib.

sports Updated: Apr 17, 2009 15:04 IST

Serie A's top two come face to face in an epic battle at Turin's Stadio Olimpico on Saturday with only seven matches left until the end of the season.

The scene should have been set for a massive title decider but instead the whole event risks turning into a damp squib.

Not because the two sides aren't worthy of their position at the top of the table or because there won't be top class players on display but because Juventus have as good as given up the ghost.

They trail Inter by 10 points with just seven matches left to play and even a victory, or a convincing one, would hardly result in a situation that appears any more favourable to them.

Their best case scenario after Saturday's game would be trailing by seven points with six matches to go, including a trip to AC Milan.

Instead of playing for the title, Juve are merely playing for pride, according to their president.

"As well as the points on offer, we're playing for pride and for our honour," said Giovanni Cobolli Gigli.

"It will be a very difficult match especially as we have some important players suspended and others have yet to recover from injuries.

"The title is still possible but only mathematically. Second place is extremely important and we have to do everything to defend it. We want it more than Milan."

Juventus lead Milan by only two points and the rossonero have a distinctly easier looking task in the visit of Torino to the San Siro.

The title may not be at stake but this match is still called the 'derby of Italy' and like clashes between Real Madrid and Barcelona or between Manchester United and Liverpool, there is always much to play for.

"There is a rivalry between us and Milan," said Marco Tronchetti, president of Inter's shirt sponsors Pirelli.

"But with Juventus, for the success they have had, for the history between the two teams and for the dramas, they have always been the A+ rivalry."

It's not just the historic rivarly that will fire up the visitors, though. Coach Jose Mourinho is a proud man and won't want to concede anything in his quest to demonstrate how superior Inter are to the rest of Serie A.

He may have claimed a week ago that a draw would suffice to ensure the title stays with Inter for the fourth year in a row, but his president Massimo Moratti insists the team will still go out with the intention of winning.

"On Saturday we have to go to Turin to win because it's the right thing to do in such a prestigious match and because when you play for a draw things don't go well," said Moratti.

"Of course we can't be hypocrites, right now we can feel the possibility of winning the scudetto.

"We need to be fired up otherwise we won't have the right attitude for the game."

The clash between the top two may be dominating the build up to the weekend but there is more than just that to play for.

Milan can go second if they win and Juve lose while Genoa, who host Lazio on Saturday, could close right in on both Milan and Juve.

Genoa are in a fight with Fiorentina for fourth place and the final Champions League qualifying place but they are only four points behind Milan and six off Juve.

A strong finish to their campaign could even see them sneak into the top three and gain automatic entry into the group stages of Europe's premier club competition.

Meanwhile, the bottom five all play away this weekend so any points gained could boost their survival hopes.