Baldini builds bridges on Roma return


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The Independent Football

Franco Baldini, Fabio Capello's closest adviser, oversees his first match since returning to Serie A as general manager of Roma when Palermo visit the Stadio Olimpico tomorrow.

Baldini started work a week earlier than expected following Roma's defeat to Lazio in last week's derby, and his first task was to clear the air with Francesco Totti, who Baldini described as "lazy" in a notorious 2005 interview.

Baldini, who this week said his comments about Totti were mis-interpreted, began moves to persuade Daniele de Rossi to sign a new deal. Roma, coached by former Real Madrid and Barcelona player Luis Enrique, sit 12th in Serie A but are only four points behind leaders Juventus.

While Baldini no longer has a formal relationship with the Football Association, he is likely to assist Capello, unpaid, during the build-up to Euro 2012 and at the finals. Totti is ruled out of tomorrow's match with a thigh injury, but is back in training.

Juventus are at home to Genoa this evening while joint-leaders Udinese host Novara tomorrow. Claudio Ranieri's Internazionale, who are clear of the relegation zone only on goal difference, hope to take their Champions League form into the domestic arena at home to Chievo tomorrow. After beginning his reign with a win at Bologna, Ranieri has presided over successive defeats in Serie A, but made it two European wins from two with victory in Lille on Tuesday.

In Spain, leaders Barcelona host Sevilla tonight two hours after Real Madrid face a tricky match at Malaga. The latter's Ruud van Nistelrooy has promised not to celebrate if he scores against his ex-team. Levante, who split the big two in La Liga, are at Villarreal.