Juventus, Inter Milan battle for the Super Cup

Injury-plagued Juventus shoots for a record-equalling fifth title on Saturday when it takes on perennial rival Inter Milan in the Italian Super Cup, the country’s top preseason trophy.

The match at Turin’s Stadio delle Alpi between the Serie A champion and the Italian Cup winner will also test the form and strength of two of the favourite teams in the league campaign which kicks off on August 27.

Inter is at full force and likely to start newly acquired Luis Figo, Santiago Solari and Marcelo Pizarro.

Juve will be without number one goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon and defender Alessandro Birindelli who suffered serious injuries in recent friendlies.

Buffon, the national team regular ‘keeper, is sidelined for three months with a shoulder injury. Birindelli is out for five months with a damaged knee ligament.

Newly signed Patrick Vieira and France teammate Lilian Thuram are doubtful starters—both are nursing thigh muscles strains—while striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic and midfielder Pavel Nedved are expected to start.

“We are struggling with a long injury list but we are used to overcoming problems. We are looking forward to a victory,” proclaimed coach Fabio Capello, who led Juventus to the league title on his first season with the Turin side.

Juventus has won the Italian Super Cup four times, one short of AC Milan.

Inter’s only win in the competition dates back to 1990, the year after it won its last Serie A title.

The Inter Milan team, coming off a first-leg 2-0 victory over Shakhtar Donetsk in the preliminary round of the Champions League, will rely on Marco Materazzi and Ivan Cordoba to stop the Juventus offence.

Brazil powerful striker Adriano and flashy Nigerian forward Obafemi Martins will be the players to watch for Juventus defenders.

“I feel the first trophy of the season will end in our pockets,” said Juventus’ veteran defender Fabio Cannavaro, a former Inter player.
“We are in form already. No doubt it will be a tough match against a team which has improved a lot.”

“We always want to win when we play Juventus. The Super Cup is no exception although it comes a few days before the second leg with Shakhtar,” Materazzi said.

The teams have a history of bitter rivalry and tense head-to-head contests.

Saturday’s match kicks off at 7pm GMT. - Sapa-AP

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