Ronaldo says 'Derby of Italy' won't decide title, praises ‘unique’ Ibrahimovic

·2-min read
Serie A - Juventus v U.S. Sassuolo

ROME (Reuters) - Former Inter Milan striker Ronaldo said Sunday's Serie A game against Juventus was not a title decider, while the two-time World Cup winning Brazilian also revealed his admiration for AC Milan's talismanic forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Second-placed Inter host champions Juve in the “Derby of Italy” at San Siro, and a win would take them seven points clear of the Turin club in fourth.

Antonio Conte’s side have emerged as a serious threat to Juve’s nine-year stranglehold on the Italian title this season, along with league leaders Milan.

But Ronaldo, who spent five years at Inter from 1997 to 2002 and two seasons at Milan later in his career, played down the significance of Sunday’s clash and talked up the Rossoneri’s chances.

“With half the season left to play it’s only worth self-esteem, to understand how ready you are to compete at that level,” the Brazilian told Gazzetta dello Sport.

“If you mean that those two will fight it out for the Scudetto, we have to put Milan into the equation, too. This season is unique, like a championship with a surprise finale.

"And Milan are surprising me: attacking football, fast, players with quality.”

Ibrahimovic’s return to Milan in January 2020 has had a transformative effect, and they go into this weekend three points clear at the top of the table in their bid to end a decade-long wait for a league title.

The Swedish striker’s remarkable form has played a big part, with the 39-year-old scoring 10 goals in seven league games this season, and he returned from a two-month injury layoff last weekend.

“Ibrahimovic has always said he considers me an idol, but I consider him a unique case, an example that is good for football,” said Ronaldo.

“Even if I didn’t suffer all the injuries that I had, I would never have played until I was 40 like him."

(Reporting by Alasdair Mackenzie; Editing by Hugh Lawson)