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Inter a Pretender No Longer
International Herald Tribune, February 29th, 2008 3:45PM

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Rob Hughes of the International Herald Tribune reminds points out that if Inter Milan goes on to claim the Serie A Scudetto this season -- and following Wednesday's 1-1 draw versus No. 2 Roma that looks very likely -- no one will be allowed to call the Nerazzurri pretenders any longer. Inter was handed the Italian title in 2006 after Juventus and AC Milan were disqualified for fixing matches. The following season, the same scandal led to a point deduction for the five teams involved, and Juventus was sent down to Serie B. Inter ran away with the title that year, blowing past second-place Roma in the process, but naysayers again pointed to the other teams' handicaps.
 
This year there are no deductions, Juventus is back in the Serie A, and Inter is once again running away with the title. Wednesday's result could be the turning point, as Inter kept a commanding nine-point lead over second-place Roma, not to mention the advantage in the head-to-head series. The club also remained unbeaten through 25 matches.
 
Separately, Hughes points out that the two goalscorers on Wednesday, Roma's Francesco Totti and Inter's Javier Zanetti, represent "something quite old fashioned, and quite admirable," in Italian soccer: "the notion that you may change your coach, but never your captain." Totti and Zanetti, captains of the respective clubs, have chosen to remain at their club for life. As such, the two icons have become more important to the club's fans than their coach.

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