Coaches embrace blockbuster Serie A start
The first round of the new Serie A season will feature two must-see games and the coaches involved have embraced their respective challenges.
The fixture for the 2014-15 season was unveiled on Monday and two matches stood out immediately with Roma set to host Fiorentina and Lazio on their way to Milan.
Roma versus Fiorentina looks particularly enticing, with the clubs that finished second and fourth respectively last season expected to challenge again in the new campaign.
And although the draw increased the risk that either Rudi Garcia or Vincenzo Montella would finish the last weekend of August in disappointment, neither coach seemed put off by the impending clash in the capital.
"The truth is we never know before playing the game whether the calendar is positive for us or not," Garcia told ANSA.
"I can say that on paper it's a big game against Fiorentina, because it can be a truly wonderful clash."
For Montella, the match will take on extra significance as it will be against the club where he played the majority of his career.
"Starting the tournament against Roma is certainly a tough task but also extra motivation for us," he told Fiorentina's website.
While Milan (eighth) and Lazio (seventh) finished significantly lower down the standings than Roma and Fiorentina last season, their clash will be intriguing on the opening weekend of the season due to both clubs' desperation to improve in 2014-15.
Milan's new coach Filippo Inzaghi was happy to be given two home games in the first three rounds but underlined the difficulty his team will face as they take on three sides that finished in the top half of the table last season - Lazio, Parma (sixth) and reigning champions Juventus.
"It is certainly an important and challenging start to the season," the 40-year-old said.
"We should try to start off on the right foot. Playing two games out of three at the San Siro could be an advantage."
But Lazio coach Stefano Pioli did not seem fazed at the prospect of travelling to Milan's famous stadium.
"It is an exciting start," Pioli told Lazio's website.
"We must work hard to ensure we arrive ready for this challenge. It is always difficult to judge the calendar, as one at a time we have to play everyone.
"It is important to get ourselves in top shape for the very beginning."