MILAN - Inter Milan's stirring 4-0 win over Werder Bremen in the Champions League on Wednesday came at a cost ahead of Sunday's juicy clash against Juventus.
Goalkeeper Julio Cesar and centre-back Lucio had to come off injured with muscle problems in the waltz past the Germans while before the game, Inter president Massimo Moratti continued a war of words with his Juve counterparts.
It all served to add extra intrigue to the Serie A encounter, which is dubbed the "Derby of Italy" given the two dominant sides' fierce rivalry over 50 years.
Treble winners Inter, top of Serie A yet again after five games as they seek a sixth straight scudetto, already had doubts over the fitness of striker Diego Milito, captain Javier Zanetti and defender Walter Samuel for the San Siro game.
The loss of Julio Cesar and Lucio too would be a big blow to the European champions but all five hope to lineup against Juve.
"They are all different injuries. We'll have to wait, we don't know how they'll progress," new Inter coach Rafael Benitez told reporters as he gears up for a first "derby" against a team so heavily linked with him in the media last term.
The injuries did not hamper Inter in their second Champions league Group A outing on Wednesday, with Samuel Eto'o running riot to score a hat-trick albeit against a weak Werder defence.
Ninth-placed Juve, a poor seventh last term, have been leaking goals again this season but three from new winger Milos Krasic sealed a 4-2 win over Cagliari last weekend in contrast to Inter's 1-0 loss at AS Roma.
Juve are Italy's most successful domestic club with 27 league titles, but the fact the Turin club say they actually won 29 scudettos is where the extra rivalry with Inter comes in.
A 2006 match-fixing scandal led a now weakened Juve to be demoted from Serie A and have their 2005 and 2006 titles stripped, with the latter one awarded to Inter.
Juve, who are also Italy's most-supported club, say new evidence in the criminal trial linked to the match-fixing shows Inter were implicated in the scandal too and should lose the 2006 scudetto.
Inter deny any wrongdoing and Moratti said on Wednesday that Juve should be giving up more of their past titles because of the affair instead of trying to drag them into the mire.
The San Siro will be packed and the atmosphere will be heated whatever happens on the field.
AC Milan, whose animosity for their city rivals is probably less than the hostility between Inter and Juve, will hope the other two traditional powerhouses cancel each other out.
The Rossoneri, with former Inter and Juve striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic in fine form despite a minor knock, visit Parma on Saturday while Napoli entertain Roma on Sunday.comments