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The Toe Poke
By ESPN Staff

Serie A: Inter injury woes for tricky Empoli trip

MILAN, Aug 30 (Reuters) - Goalkeeper Julio Cesar is suspended and Patrick Vieira is an injury doubt for Inter Milan's visit to Empoli on Saturday.

The champions drew 1-1 with Udinese in Sunday's Serie A opener and with AC Milan, AS Roma and Juventus all winning comfortably, the pressure is immediately on coach Roberto Mancini.

Cesar's dismissal for handball and Ivan Cordoba's own goal in stoppage time turned the Udinese game into a difficult start for Inter, with Mancini blaming the San Siro heat.

A trip to last season's surprise package Empoli, who qualified for the UEFA Cup through their league position, is a tougher prospect on paper especially given the absence of Inter's commanding keeper and Vieira's thigh problem.

Defender Marco Materazzi is also out for at least two months with a thigh complaint but Inter can at least be buoyed by Empoli losing 3-1 at Tuscan rivals Fiorentina last weekend.

Empoli may be less of a force this term without midfielder Sergio Almiron, who moved to promoted Juventus.

Almiron has yet to express himself at Juve but Claudio Ranieri's team still managed a 5-1 home drubbing of Livorno last week to celebrate their return to the top flight after their match-fixing demotion.

David Trezeguet scored a hat-trick against Livorno but they will not expect such rewards in Sunday's trip to Cagliari, who managed a 2-0 win at promoted Napoli on Sunday.

Last season's runners-up AS Roma host Siena on Sunday and could hand a first start to right back Cicinho, who joined from Real Madrid last week.

Fellow Brazilian defender Juan may again be out injured but Roma should still easily overcome Siena, who saved themselves from relegation in the final five minutes of last season.

AC Milan host Fiorentina on Monday in the standout fixture from the second round of matches. The game has been put back because Milan face Sevilla in Friday's European Super Cup.

The European champions easily won 3-0 at promoted Genoa last weekend with Kaka getting two goals and Fiorentina were equally effective in their win over Empoli.

Luca Toni's move from Fiorentina to Bayern Munich had left a question mark over who would score the goals but Giampaolo Pazzini and Romania's Adrian Mutu have answered the doubters so far.