sport

Cassano backed to down Viola

Inter Milan president Massimo Moratti is backing Antonio Cassano to unlock Fiorentina's defence and earn the club a first home win this season.

The Bari-born striker, signed from AC Milan over the summer in a swap deal with Giampaolo Pazzini, rubberstamped victory at Chievo in midweek but Andrea Stramaccioni's men are still without a win in front of their own fans.

Fiorentina may have enjoyed mixed results so far but are riding high in the fledgling Serie A table regardless, having shipped just one goal in their last three outings.

With one eye on next weekend's Milan derby, Moratti is pleased that the man he persuaded to switch places with Pazzini is starting to prove his worth.

"I'm happy when any member of the team scores, but I was especially happy for him because he's played so well," he told the Gazzetta dello Sport.

"Will it be Cassano or Pazzini that decides the derby? So far they've scored three goals each, but I'm happy for Cassano, he's given us a lot.

"I'm pleased he has such a great relationship with the coach and his team-mates."

The Inter president was encouraged by what he saw at the Bentegodi but has been frustrated by the lack of cutting edge at the San Siro.

"I think we've been a bit casual," he added. "I wasn't very happy with the first half, but in the second we managed to achieve the target that we had set ourselves.

"Let's hope we make that a regular habit at home too, starting against Fiorentina.

Stramaccioni's decision to employ a 3-5-2 formation in Verona paid dividends and Moratti believes his coach was inspired by another ambitious young tactician, Fiorentina's Vincenzo Montella.

He added: "Montella and Stramaccioni are actually great friends.

"The Viola are the best team I've seen play this season."

The Tuscan giants certainly impressed their adoring fans when they held champions Juventus to a goalless draw on Tuesday - a match in which Montella's side came dangerously close to ending the Bianconeri's lengthy unbeaten run.

Viola goalkeeper Emiliano Viviano said: "The response in Florence was fantastic.

"We gave it our all and nearly embarrassed Juventus."

If Fiorentina are to spoil Inter's homecoming party, though, they will have to do so without midfielders Alberto Aquilani and Francesco Della Rocca, who remain sidelined through injury.