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'Inter the team to beat'-Zambrotta

ROME, July 28 – It may be a new season but AC Milan full-back Gianluca Zambrotta believes there will be little change at the top of Serie A.The veteran insists that despite the departure of engimatic coach Jose Mourinho, Inter Milan will still be the favourites this coming campaign.

"I believe Inter will still be the team to beat, they’re the best team and then there’s ourselves, Juventus and AS Roma," he said.

"I believe that’s the starting grid on paper, but then again things can change on the pitch."

Inter have won the last five titles with Roma finishing runners-up on four of those occasions.

Last season Milan were a distant third and they have been criticised in some quarters for having an ageing squad, with the likes of Zambrotta, Alessandro Nesta, Filippo Inzaghi and Clarence Seedorf all well into their 30s.

They could even field a recognisable first-choice XI next season made up entirely of players over 30, but Zambrotta says they still have much to offer.

"We’re not in fashion any more. If you look at the last World Cup, even if we didn’t do well, I was in good form and at 33 I believe I have shown that I’m capable of being part of a great team," he said.

"I believe the others of my age are also in good form physically and they have the desire to give a lot more."

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Milan have also been criticised this summer for not investing more, particularly in young players.

They have only strengthened with young Greek international centre-back Sokratis Papastatholopoulos and 34-year-old Colombian centre-back Mario Yepes.

Even so, Zambrotta believes the club is strong enough to compete.

"It’s not my job to talk about transfers and do the sporting director’s role," he said.

"But I believe we’re already competitive to fight on three fronts, I don’t think we need anything in particular."

If they are to challenge on three fronts, as they failed to do last season, Milan will be expecting more from inconsistent Brazilian forward Ronaldinho, particularly after he committed his future to the rossoneri this season.

And Zambrotta believes that if the talented forward plays on his favoured left wing, he can be devastating.

"He’s training well and he seems happy and with the desire to be great again.

"I don’t know about his personal situation but the important thing is that he helps us win games.

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"I knew him at Barcelona and he always played on the left, and he did it well although he also has the ability to play behind the strikers. It all depends what the coach wants."

While Zambrotta insists Milan have no problem with their generation of golden oldies, he believes Italy do need new blood following their South African World Cup debacle.

"We need new players, we need to insert some good young players but I don’t think we need to have a complete overhaul like they’ve done in France," he said, before insisting that he will still be available.

"I’d never say no to my country because I’m too attached to the colours. If the coach calls me, I’ll definitely say yes."

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