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Serie A Preview: Inter still fighting for European spot

Brazilian defender Juan Jesus said Inter have not given up on qualifying for Europe next season, despite the club’s Serie A struggles this term.

Inter welcome third-placed Roma to San Siro on Saturday, with the home side languishing in 10th position after 31 rounds.

After last week’s goalless Milan derby, Roberto Mancini’s men are eight points adrift of Sampdoria, who occupy the fifth and final European position, which guarantees an UEFA Europa League third qualifying round berth.

“We’ll fight for it as long as there’s a mathematical hope. It’s a shame [that we drew with Milan] because Fiorentina lost [to Verona], so it was an opportunity to get closer,” Juan told a media conference.

“There are still seven games to go and we want to get as many points as possible.

“We want to take advantage of this because they [Roma] are not what they were at the start of the season. I thought they could aim for the Scudetto.”

Roma’s grip on third and a place in the UEFA Champions League play-off round has loosened following back-to-back 1-1 draws against Torino and Atalanta.

Rudi Garcia’s Roma are only adrift of city rivals and second-placed Lazio on goal difference but have seen their buffer ahead of Napoli reduced to just five points in recent weeks.

And Roma will be watching both teams closely on Sunday.

Lazio, whose eight-match winning streak ended at the hands of league leaders Juventus last week, entertain Chievo at Stadio Olimpico.

Napoli, meanwhile, host Sampdoria in a blockbuster clash a few hours later.

Only three points separate Europa League semi-finalists Napoli and Sampdoria, who were forced to deny reports that coach Sinisa Mihajlovic had already agreed a deal to replace Rafael Benitez in Naples next season.

Juventus – high on confidence after reaching the Champions League semi-finals for the first time since 2002-03 – are on the road against local rivals Torino on the same day.

In other fixtures on Sunday, Fiorentina, who qualified for the Europa League semis on Thursday, play second-bottom Cagliari.

High-flying Genoa are at home to third-bottom Cesena, cellar-dwelling Parma tackle Palermo, Hellas Verona clash with Sassuolo and Atalanta host fellow strugglers Empoli.

Meanwhile, Udinese and Milan open the round at Stadio Comunale Friuli on Saturday.

Fri 24 Apr, 2015
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