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Inter Faces Biggest Test of the Season

Domestically they're cruising, but Inter Milan's Nerazzurri are fighting for their lives in the UEFA Champions League. Today's match against Sporting Lisbon at the San Siro is a game that could make or break the European season for Inter. It's been a different story for the club in the league, however, as Inter is top of the standings and undefeated. But Inter opened the Champions League season with a pair of crucial defeats, away to Sporting Lisbon and at home to Bayern Munich, setting up a scramble for second place in Group B between Sporting, Spartak Moscow and the Nerazzurri. On Match Days 3 and 4, Inter managed to scrape by Spartak, 2-1 and 1-0, respectively, but victory today would guarantee second place. Any other result would leave qualification down to the final day, as Sporting is just a point behind them, but Bayern Munich away isn't the type of fixture you want to have to pin your qualification hopes on. Because of this, Inter coach Roberto Mancini says tonight's game "is our most important match of the season." Julio Cruz, Inter's savior in both matches against Spartak, is unavailable for tonight's game after suffering a knee injury last weekend that will keep him out until 2007. That means that Hernan Crespo will likely partner with Zlatan Ibrahimovic up front, with Adriano, who just returned from Brazil, starting on the bench. Said Mancini, "If he is given a chance to play then I hope he can do better than in the game against Reggina, but I think his performance could improve because it would be his second consecutive game." In Serie A, Inter is undefeated and currently top of the table.

Read the whole story at Football Italia »

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