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Sunday, 24 August 2008

Game of the week: Sampdoria versus Inter Milan

The Serie A season gets under way next weekend and despite the poor performance of the world champions at Euro 2008, optimism is slowly returning to the Italian game after the summer arrival of two big name personalities.

On the pitch, Ronaldinho's signing by AC Milan has seen a surge in season ticket sales and served as a reminder that Serie A can still attract the game's top stars.

On the touchline, it is Jose Mourinho who has been making the headlines this summer and the 'special one' makes his competitive bow as Inter coach with a tough trip to Sampdoria.

As big a name as he may be however but Milan have won the battle of the big summer signings thanks to Ronaldinho's signing.

"I cannot deny I expected a better response from our fans," said Inter president Massimo Moratti.

Another league title is the minimum expected of Mourinho although Milan, Juventus, Roma and Fiorentina should conspire to make the season the most competitive for a number of years.

It is in Europe however that the former Chelsea boss is expected to make the difference. Roberto Mancini's side failed in the big Champions League games once too often for Moratti's liking and defeat by Liverpool last season was the last straw.

Mourinho is in town therefore to deliver the big prize and has one of the best squads in the game at his disposal to do so.

Summer signing Amantino Mancini is likely to make his debut against former club AS Roma in Sunday's Super Cup clash while a revitalised Adriano could also make a big impact following his successful loan spell with Sao Paulo.

Sampdoria will provide stiff opposition next weekend. The Genoa club have made a solid return to Serie A and will look to the mercurial Antonio Cassano to upset Mourinho's big return.

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