Mourinho stirs the pot with Roma as Inter aim at treble

Euro Zone

Jose Mourinho keeps dropping the bait and his Serie A rivals keep biting. Ahead of the penultimate round of games in Italy, Roma are considering taking legal action over remarks by Mourinho suggesting that they might pay Internazionale's opponents on the last day of the season to play harder to beat them.

With two games left in Italy, only two points separate Inter and Roma, and Inter go to already relegated Siena on the final day of the season. The Siena president, Massimo Mezzaroma, is a Roma fan and had hinted he would still pay out the bonuses he promised his players for staying up if they beat Inter and help Roma to the Scudetto.

In response the Inter coach suggested: "Perhaps Roma could take advantage of the money they saved by not having to pay out cup bonuses and use the funds to pay Siena to beat us too." The incendiary comments follow Inter's Italian Cup final win over Roma this week.

There might be no need for anyone to pay anything, because if Inter beat Chievo tomorrow and Roma fail at home to Cagliari, the title will be decided with a week to spare. As Mourinho prepares for the domestic climax, though, he will have one eye on Spain where Real Madrid are one point behind Barcelona with two games left.

The current Real coach, Manuel Pellegrini, was last night preparing for what will either be his last home game in charge of the club or his finest hour.

If Barça beat Seville away tonight then, with a home match against practically relegated Valladolid on the last day, they will be all but crowned champions and Pellegrini, having overseen the most expensive barren season in history, will face the sack, leaving the way clear in Madrid for Mourinho.

But if Barcelona slip up and Real win their game against Athletic Bilbao, which kicks off at the same time tonight, then the Bernabeu will start celebrating the title pending a final-game away win over Malaga.

"I signed for two years and I assume that I will complete those two years," said Pellegrini when asked if he thought this could be his last home fixture in charge. "At the end of the season we will evaluate things, but first we must fight to the end. There are various ways to judge the season. The club will decide if this is the end or the beginning of an era."

The Barcelona coach, Pep Guardiola, took the pressure off his players by dismissing the idea that this would be a trophyless season if they did not retain the league title. "We have already won the Spanish Super Cup, the European Super Cup and the World Club Cup," Guardiola said. "It will be the fourth [trophy] of the season not the first."

Attention, as ever, will centre around Lionel Messi, who now has 31 goals for the season, and Cristiano Ronaldo who has 25. Seville knocked Barcelona out of the Spanish Cup earlier in the season but Messi has scored more goals against Seville's Andres Palop than any other goalkeeper in Spain.

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