Ranieri still gunning for stratospheric Inter

MILAN - AS Roma coach Claudio Ranieri described Serie A leaders Inter Milan as 'stratospheric' on Sunday but he has still not given up hope of snatching an unlikely title from boss Jose Mourinho's pocket.

Acid-tongued Mourinho might have accused bitter rival Ranieri of having his head in the clouds had the Portuguese not snubbed the media again.

Possibly facing league action for joking last week that Roma would pay relegated Siena to beat Inter in the final game of the season next weekend, Mourinho decided to resume his press blackout after his side overcame Chievo 4-3.

It was left for Ranieri to do the talking after Francesco Totti scored twice in a 2-1 comeback win over Cagliari which sent the Serie A title race into Sunday's final round.

Champions League finalists Inter have a two-point lead over Roma, who visit Chievo in their season finale.

"We've got to keep going right until the end as we are up against a stratospheric opponent," Ranieri told Sky TV.

The coach also praised captain Totti, who was sent off for a wild kick at Mario Balotelli in Wednesday's Italian Cup final defeat to Inter and could be left out of Italy's preliminary World Cup squad on Tuesday according to media reports.

"It was the right reaction, what I hoped for," Ranieri said of Totti, who was mulling ending his international retirement.

"I said to him 'make the fans enjoy it and make them talk about you for what you are able to do on the pitch'."

While Ranieri dreams of a shock scudetto, his former side Juventus were plumbing new depths on Sunday.

The Turin club, who surprisingly axed Ranieri towards the end of last season when they were in third place, are languishing in seventh spot after a 3-2 home defeat by Parma.

A hefty fine or even a stadium ban could now hit Juve after the game was suspended for a short time because disillusioned home fans were throwing firecrackers at the away section.

Despite being down in seventh, a Europa League qualifying berth is assured for Juve as media reports continue to link them with Liverpool coach Rafael Benitez.

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