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Sneijder primed for Milan derby

Wesley Sneiijder could make his Inter Milan this weekend in the Milan derby against fierce rivals AC Milan. Sneijder has completed a 15-million-euro switch from Real Madrid and will go straight into the first team reckoning as the champions look to bounce back from their opening home draw against Serie A new-boys Bari.

sports Updated: Aug 28, 2009 10:47 IST

Wesley Sneiijder could make his Inter Milan this weekend in the Milan derby against fierce rivals AC Milan.

Sneijder has completed a 15-million-euro switch from Real Madrid and will go straight into the first team reckoning as the champions look to bounce back from their opening home draw against Serie A new-boys Bari.

The 25-year-old Dutchman insists he is not taking a step down in his career despite being practically forced out of Madrid by the Real hierarchy.

"I don't feel like it's a defeat leaving Madrid as Inter are one of the biggest clubs in the world and have been champions of Italy for the last four years," he told a Dutch newspaper.

"It will be a pleasure to work with (coach Jose) Mourinho. As for the derby, it's the boss who will decide but I'm ready to start playing right away, I have no fitness problems."

Mourinho signed Sneijder specifically to play the former Ajax man at the tip of his midfield diamond formation, behind front pair Samuel Eto'o and Diego Milito.

"If he manages to come through all the tests he could be an option and then obviously he'll be in the squad," said Mourinho.

Although this match comes early in the season it is still being seen as the first potential title-decider but also, more importantly, a test of just how good Milan really are following a turbulent summer in which they lost eight of 11 pre-season matches and failed to replace the Real Madrid-bound Kaka with a player even approaching his ability.

Even so, Mourinho expects his team's cross-town rivals to be fired up for the clash.

"I'm convinced that Milan are desperate to play this match, the stadium will be full and it will be a great advert for the whole of Europe," he added.

Inter have been involved in some mind-games leading up to the match, in which Milan are the nominal hosts at the San Siro, a ground shared by the two teams.

Marco Materazzi claimed Milan are the favourites because they lead Inter in the table having won their opening match, 2-1 at Siena.

He may have been joking but Milan forward Marco Borriello believes a victory for his team would open up an morale-boosting gap on their rivals.

"It's early days but to have a five point lead would be very improtant," he said.

"That would be a useful advantage so we can go in to other matches feeling calm and it's a possibility that might not happen again in this championship.

"Even so, they are the favourites but beating Mourinho is an extra motivation."

The other big match of the weekend sees Juventus travel to AS Roma in a match that could say a lot about either side's title chances.

Juve were wasteful in their opening day 1-0 home success against Chievo while Roma fell to a 3-2 defeat at Genoa.

The capital-based side need to bounce back quickly to avoid losing touch with the top sides while a repeat of last season's 4-1 victory at Rome's Stadio Olimpico would assert Juve's scudetto credentials.

"To win at Roma would really be a show of force capable of stamping our authority on the championship, even if we are only at the beginning," said Juve centre-back Giorgio Chiellini.