The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Serie A braces for positive season

Milan: After an off-season dominated by financial problems and a row over television rights, Italy’s Serie A finally gets underway Saturday with the northern trio of Inter Milan, AC Milan and reigning champions Juventus once again being primary contenders for the title.

But while the battle for top spot, which has gone down to the wire for the past four seasons, is again expected to be close, the league has much work to do if it is to regain its status as the top championship in Europe.

The recent departure of Ronaldo from Inter to Real Madrid comes a year after Zinedine Zidane and Juan Sebastian Veron left Italy for Real and Manchester United. On top of those losses, Italian clubs have failed to make the last four in the Champions League for three successive years.

Better results are demanded in Europe but also a more attacking and entertaining brand of football is badly needed on a weekly basis to boost the image of a league that has been surrounded by scandal and crisis for the past two seasons.

After the title went to Rome in 2000 and 2001, with Lazio and AS Roma enjoying rare success, normal service was resumed last term when Marcello Lippi’s Juventus brought the title back north by claiming their 26th ‘scudetto.’.

Argentine striker Hernan Crespo’s arrival ensures a strong partner for Christian Vieri in Inter attack. However, Inter’s local rivals AC Milan are also not lagging behind.

World Cup winner Rivaldo and Italy defender Alessandro Nesta are two top quality signings and with Portugal’s Rui Costa fit again and Dutch midfielder Clarence Seedorf brought from Inter, coach Carlo Ancelotti has by far the most attack-minded squad in the league.

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