Get ready for 'The Derby of Italy'

Well, the Rome derby was all love and kisses.

The Ultras got their way and struck a pact with AS Roma and Lazio that they would lay-off the stabbings, racist chants and general low-life behaviour as a mark of respect for the Lazio fan shot dead by a policeman back in November.

Both defences, but Roma’s in particular, did their best to make it a lively encounter although it was a surreal atmosphere inside the Olympic stadium and no one would have been surprised if the Giallorossi fans had joined in with the celebrations after Lazio’s late winner.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" /> 

Let’s see if this love all ethos is genuine when Manchester United come to town.

Anyway, Serie A will have its real face on again at the San Siro on Saturday evening. Inter meet Juventus and for the Nerazzurri it’s a game they want to win more than any other and that includes the city derby with AC Milan.It’s not that they don’t like the Old Lady, they “hate the old bitch” as one club employee eloquently put it. It was Italian sports journalist Gianni Brera who lumbered this fixture with the term Derby of Italy back in the late '60s due to the fact they were the two most successful teams at the time, neither had ever been relegated and both clubs were the best supported.

As far as Inter are concerned Juve don’t win things, they cheat their way to success and the bad blood goes back a long way.

In 1961, Inter were awarded a match after the game was suspended due to a pitch invasion, only for the decision to be overturned and a replay ordered.

Massimo Moratti’s dad, Angelo by name, but apparently no angel when it came to lavishing ‘gifts’ on visiting referees, sent out the youth side who were thrashed 9-1 and another title went up in smoke. 

Then in 1988, Inter were denied a penalty at the Stadio delle Alpi when Mark Iuliano ‘collided’ with Ronaldo only for referee Piero Ceccarini to wave play on and award a spot-kick almost immediately at the other end from which the home side scored to seal a 1-0 win and virtually the league.

Of course, Calciopoli blew everything out of the water and as Inter crowed, “We told you so”, Juve claimed that their old enemy was behind the phone-tapping that brought down Lucky Luciano Moggi and his Mr Fix’it empire.

Moratti then twisted the knife further by buying Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Patrick Vieira in the subsequent <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 />Turin fire sale and with the old dear out of the way, took over as top dog in Serie A.

The first encounter early in the season at the lifeless Olympic stadium was a staid old affair but with Inter suddenly stumbling towards to the title and Juve in sight of a Champions League spot, expect normal service of rancour and malice to be restored this weekend.

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