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Italian football Serie A top two on Cup final collision course

SoccerNews in Serie A 7 May 2008

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Serie A top two Inter Milan and AS Roma are one step away from also contesting the Coppa Italia final.

Inter travel to Rome to face Lazio in their semi-final second leg on Wednesday with the scores finely poised at 0-0 from the first leg last month.

Roma have a slight advantage against Sicilians Catania, having won their first leg at home 1-0.

While silverware is obviously at stake, these cup semi-finals are more of a distraction than a target for three of the four semi-finalists.

Inter and Roma are still involved in the title battle following the champions' 2-1 defeat to AC Milan in their city derby on Sunday.

They lead Roma by three points with two matches remaining, although due to their superior head-to-head record Inter need only one win to ensure they claim a third straight Scudetto crown.

Catania meanwhile are involved in the relegation dogfight and their 2-1 loss to fellow strugglers Reggina on Sunday drew them closer to the mire.

They now sit only one point above the drop zone.

That leaves only mid-table Lazio concentrating soley on this competition. They can still mathematically be relegated but it would take some unlikely results for that to become a reality.

Instead this competition provides them with a possible route into next season's UEFA Cup, something which would be a huge bonus from an otherwise troubled season.

It was clear, too, during Sunday's 2-1 home defeat to Palermo that the players' minds were firmly on Wednesday night.

“We've been guilty of inattention but our heads were already on Wednesday night,” said Lazio coach Delio Rossi.

Some have suggested that his job depends on winning the Coppa Italia and qualifying for Europe, not something Rossi himself wants to spend too much time thinking about.

“My future at Lazio does not depend directly on the challenge of Inter on Wednesday night,” he said.

“My team have had a very positive season. More positive than that of last season because right now I have all the cards in my hands.

“Lazio are growing as a group, they're very young players who've shown their worth and have understood how important this team is.”

Lazio may have the most riding on this game but Inter Milan coach Roberto Mancini claimed it is still a competition that he wants to win.

However, with his large squad at hand he is certain to ring the changes to concentrate on Sunday's home clash with Siena, where victory would secure the title.

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