Football: Ronaldo day in Italy

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The Independent Online
Internazionale may have acquired the world's second most expensive player in Ronaldo, but their new coach, Gigi Simoni, warns that instant success is not guaranteed.

"It has been said that they've put me behind the wheel of a Ferrari but even Michael Schumacher [Ferrari's German driver] didn't win the world title in his first season," Simoni said ahead of today's kick-off to the season. "It only takes you 20 days to put together a team, buying on the market place, but to then get that team to play well can take months, even years."

Indifferent performances in pre-season friendlies have already prompted media speculation that Simoni risks dismissal if Inter make a bad start against the newly promoted Brescia in Milan.

Ronaldo's move from Barcelona, for a $29m (pounds 18m) buy-out fee plus a transfer sum still being negotiated, has created huge expectations among Inter supporters.

The club's owner, Massimo Moratti, added to the pressure on his new coach when he said this week: "We've got 25 players in the squad and by Sunday Simoni had better have found a way of getting them to play."

Like Simoni, the 20-year-old Ronaldo will be under pressure to make a successful start to his Italian career. Inter's experienced striker Maurizio Ganz will partner him in attack.

France's Youri Djorkaeff leads the midfield, supported by the Dutchman Aron Winter and Argentina's Javier Zanetti and the new signing Diego Simeone.

In defence, Simoni looks to the experience of the 1982 World Cup winner Giuseppe Bergomi, now 34, to command a rearguard that has looked vulnerable in pre-season friendlies.

Last season's Serie B winners, Brescia, had a turbulent warm-up to the season by sacking last season's coach, Edi Reja, just last month and replacing him with Giuseppe Materazzi, the former Lazio and Padova coach.

The defending league champions, Juventus, powered by the newly acquired striker Filippo Inzaghi, host another Serie A newcomer, Lecce.

Milan, who have more foreign players than any other club in the League, is at Piacenza against the only Serie A team fielding an all-Italian line- up. Milan's coach, Fabio Capello, who rejoined after winning the Spanish League title with Real Madrid, said he expects a lot from the scoring ability of George Weah and Patrick Kluivert. "But defence is the key sector in the Italian league," Capello said.

For the first time in 17 years Milan will have to do without their sweeper- captain, Franco Baresi, who has retired.

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