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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Feb 26, 2008

Spalletti ready for Inter's 'match of truth'

MILAN, February 26 (Serie A) - Roma coach Luca Spalletti has called on his side to prove they are the match of runaway league leaders Internazionale in their Wednesday evening meeting.

Inter's lead is down to nine points after they recovered for a 1-1 draw at Sampdoria, whereas second-place Roma overcame Fiorentina 1-0 at the Stadio Olimpico.

'The match against Inter can be described as the `match of truth,' because if we beat them we confirm we are the team that has caused them most hassle in the last two years, and we reduce the gap at the top of the championship,' Spalletti said.

'If Inter win, it will become a problem to talk about attempts to come back.

'We must win to create problems for the supremacy of Inter.'

Inter have only dropped points once at home this season, a 1-1 draw with Udinese on the opening day.

Their last defeat came at the hands of Roma, and a repeat would close the gap to six points with 13 games to play.

'It seems to me that up to now Roma have done brilliantly,' Spalletti told Sky Italia.

'If Inter have created this gap it means they have been impeccable. I thought we would have arrived at this point in the championship without such a huge gap.

'However, it will not be easy for them to get back to the form they need to do well again. They are very strong in the physical sense, and in dead-ball situations. We have to find our path and that is to play the ball, and to control the game.'

Christian Panucci is Spaletti's only injury as both Juan and Mancini have sufficiently recovered from knocks to travel to Milan.

Cicinho however is suspended after his last-minute sending-off against Fiorentina.

Inter meanwhile are depleted by injury and coach Roberto Mancini knows his side must get back to winning ways.

'You can't always win,' he said after the 1-1 draw at Samp. 'Every once in a while you can also lose points.

'For us it's an important week, there's the clash against Roma and then we go to Napoli.

'Are Inter going through a more difficult time at the moment? There are times during a year where things might not go very well, but those things happen.'

He added: 'We have to think as well that we have not lost. But it is in these times that you see the strength of a team.'

The unbeaten champions were without Sweden striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic in Genoa and he will again miss out with a knee problem, while fellow frontman Julio Cruz will also join him as a spectator for the match.

Mario Balotelli is called up from the youth squad as cover and midfielders Luis Jimenez and Dejan Stankovic return to the squad.

South American defensive pair Ivan Cordoba (long-term knee) and Walter Samuel are also ruled out.

Coach Roberto Mancini has no suspensions to deal with but five Inter players are one yellow-card away from suspension: Nicolas Burdisso, Esteban Cambiasso, Cristian Chivu, Marco Materazzi and Patrick Vieira.

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