Italy await Ibrahimovic & Robinho debut


ROME, September 10 – All eyes will be on Cesena on Saturday as AC Milan will be the visitors along with high-profile new signings Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Robinho.Cesena is a small town of less than 100,000 inhabitants in the Emilia-Romagna region but about a quarter of its population could be packed into the Stadio Dino Manuzzi to catch the first glimpses of Ibrahimovic and Robinho in red and black.

While Ibrahimovic is certain to start in a central striking role, mystery surrounds what place Robinho will be given in Massimiliano Allegri’s Milan XI, if indeed he makes the starting line-up.

When the club landed the big Swede, all the talk was of Milan’s impressive attacking trident including Brazilians Ronaldinho and Alexandre Pato.

But now that their compatriot has also joined the rossoneri from Manchester City, many are wondering just how Allegri can fit all four into the team.

Milan president Silvio Berlusconi, the Italy Prime Minister, has already expressed his belief that all four can play together but if that was the case, Milan would risk being left short in midfield.

For his part, vice-president Adriano Galliani has said it will be up to the coach to decide.

"The players are ready to play, now it’s up to Allegri to decide whether to play with four, three, two, one or none of them," he said of his attacking luxuries.

At any rate, many punters have declared Milan the favourites to land this season’s Serie A title and they have certainly started the season in impressive form.

They thumped newly promoted Lecce 4-0 at home two weeks ago before their two new signings had even joined the club, while champions Inter Milan were held to a 0-0 stalemate at Bologna.

This time Milan play another team of Serie A new boys in Cesena, but they will be expecting a tougher run-out than against Lecce.

Cesena already frustrated Roma in the capital in their opening game, earning a 0-0 draw, and with Ghana captain Stephen Appiah anchoring their midfield, they looked quite solid.

Even so, Milan’s fans will be expecting their team to romp to victory and the question will be how their new signings fit into Allegri’s team and how they gel with their new team-mates.

Across the other side of the city, Inter will host Udinese with Rafael Benitez looking to secure his first ever Serie A victory.

He complained that his team lacked freshness last time against Bologna and the international break will not have helped that situation, as most of his players were involved in matches for their national teams.

And with Javier Zanetti and Esteban Cambiasso recalled to the Argentina set-up, they will be recovering from a long trip to Buenos Aires.

With Champions League action starting next week, Inter must quickly re-focus on domestic matters and not get side-tracked by more glamorous European engagements.

Juventus will hope to bounce back from their opening 1-0 defeat at Bari as they host Sampdoria in a game that may provide clues as to which of these two sides is better placed for a tilt at a top-four finish this season.

Roma, looking for their first win of the campaign, have a tricky tie at Cagliari, with coach Claudio Ranieri mulling whether to give Marco Borriello his debut in Sardinia following his switch from Milan.


Saturday (1845GMT unless otherwise stated): Inter Milan v Udinese (1600GMT), Cagliari v Roma, Cesena v AC Milan

Sunday (1300GMT unless otherwise stated): Brescia v Palermo (1030GMT), Catania v Parma, Genoa v Chievo, Juventus v Sampdoria, Lazio v Bologna, Lecce v Fiorentina, Napoli v Bari (1845GMT)