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We´re still the best, insists Ibrahimovic

SoccerNews in Serie A 29 Aug 2008

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Inter Milan's star Sweden forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic says the champions are still the team to beat ahead of the Serie A kick-off this weekend.

Inter have won the last three titles but AS Roma pushed them to the wire last season and AC Milan have recruited well during the off season, bringing in Ronaldinho, Andrei Shevchenko, Gianluca Zambrotta and Mathieu Flamini, as well as Swiss defender Philippe Senderos on loan.

But Ibra insists that with Portuguese coach Jose Mourinho at the helm, Inter will still finish top of the tree.

Asked if Milan, Juventus and Roma would present the toughest opposition this season, Ibra told Gazzetta dello Sport: “I also like Fiorentina but everyone will finish behind us. Inter are still the best.”

Inter open their campaign with a tricky trip to Sampdoria on Saturday night and are sure to be caused problems by Italy forward Antonio Cassano.

Milan have a less demanding challenge in a home match against newly-promoted Bologna while Roma host Napoli.

Both sides will be desperate to get off to a winning start to ensure they don't cede any early ground to Inter.

Milan scuppered their own title hopes last season by failing to win any of their first seven home league matches.

That, coupled with their participation in both the European Supercup and Club World Cup, meant that by Christmas they were already more than 20 points off the pace and with a fixture backlog facing them in January and February.

Roma's title hopes the last two seasons, in which they have finished both as bridesmaids, have been dented by dropping points against so called lesser teams so Luciano Spalletti will be hoping his new signings Julio Baptista and Jeremy Menez gel quickly, particularly with talisman Francesco Totti out of their Serie A opener.

The match of the weekend will take place in Florence where Juventus will be the visitors to Fiorentina.

Both sides have been in early action this season as they have already played two Champions League third qualifying round matches, with both securing their passage to the lucrative group stages.

Both sides will have to readjust quickly, though, as they were celebrating midweek.

Juve have strengthened their ranks by signing Brazilian forward Amauri and Danish midfielder Christian Poulsen while Fiorentina's major activity in the transfer market was to fend off interest from Roma for their Romania striker Adrian Mutu.

Five teams will begin the season believing they can challenge for the title but Ibrahimovic insists that with Mourinho leading them Inter are going to be even more difficult to beat than before.

“He's the most complete coach I've ever had, on the pitch and off it,” said the Swede. “He's meticulous about every little detial, with us and it seems also with journalists.

“I heard him talking when he was at Chelsea and after one and a half months of knowing him I've only positive things to say.

“You can see straight away the difference to other coaches. Now there's a new spirit, the team has more confidence in itself.”

Newly-promoted Chievo host Reggina while fellow newboys Lecce face a trip to Torino.

Fixtures:

Saturday

Sampdoria v Inter, Udinese v Palermo

Sunday

AC Milan v Bologna, AS Roma v Napoli, Atalanta v Siena, Cagliari v Lazio, Catania v Genoa, Chievo v Reggina, Fiorentina v Juventus, Torino v Lecce

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