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By ESPN Staff

Serie A: Inter set sights on record books

A place in the history books beckons for Internazionale as they kick off 2007 with a trip to Torino.

Victory against the side coached by former Inter boss Alberto Zaccheroni would see Inter post their 12th consecutive Serie A win and eclipse the record set last year by Roma.

More importantly it would keep the defending Serie A champions at least seven points clear of Roma, the only club that seems to have a realistic chance of denying them the Scudetto.

The Nerazzurri's Colombian defender Ivan Cordoba believes morale within the club is good as they look to defend on the field the title they were awarded by a disciplinary committee after Juventus and AC Milan were both punished for match-fixing.

'We are all fine,' said Cordoba in remarks on club website, www.inter.it. 'It comes from a combination of factors and gives us strength and confidence.

'The important thing is to go into all games to do well and to win.'

Promoted Torino had a rocky start under Zaccheroni but now look to be a solid unit and could provide a tough test for Inter in their first official outing of the year.

Roma will play the day after Inter and know they have to win at Messina to keep pressure on the pacesetters, regardless of how Roberto Mancini's side perform.

During the winter break, Valencia striker Francesco Tavano has been recruited as has Nantes midfielder Christian Wilhelmsson while Vincenzo Montella has been offloaded to Fulham, also on loan.

Tavano joins a club that has scored more goals than any other in Serie A and which, in 12-goal Francesco Totti, has the front-runner in the race to be 'capocannoniere' (leading goalscorer) in Serie A.

Roma play an out-of-form Messina whose poor recent form contrasts to the heroics of Sicily's two other Serie A clubs, Palermo and Catania.

They picked up only three points in their nine games before Christmas to slip towards the danger zone and coach Bruno Giordano is thought to be walking on thin ice.

Third-placed Palermo are now 13 points off the pace and are no longer realistic title contenders.

It is a measure of how well the club is performing, however, that this week they refused the services of Real Madrid's troublesome striker Antonio Cassano on loan.

Instead Andrea Carraciolo gets the chance to claim a regular berth as a replacement for long-term injury casualty Amauri Carvalho.

Palermo kick off the year with a tough home match with Udinese, another team with Champions League aspirations.

Catania were the surprise packages of 2006, winning promotion and then ending the year in fourth in the top flight.

They hope to continue their momentum by winning at Verona where they are the guests of a Chievo team that was struggling but starting to improve at the end of 2006.

AC Milan have not often started a calendar year in 12th place but while that is partly because of a match-fixing penalty of eight points it is still indicative of poor form.

Carlo Ancelotti has been told by club owner Silvio Berlusconi that his job is safe and victory at home to Reggina would be just what the doctor ordered.

Atalanta host Livorno in Bergamo in a midtable battle while bottom club Ascoli kick off what promises to be a five-month survival battle with a trip to Sardinia to play Cagliari.

Ascoli had a dreadful first half to the season but ended 2006 with their first win of the campaign and their coach Nedo Sonetti will look for another three points against his former club.

Lazio are looking good for a Champions League spot in fifth and they host Siena in the Sunday evening match.

On Saturday, struggling Parma travel to Tuscany to face Empoli.