Inter Milan test important but not decisive, says Juventus' Pirlo

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Serie A - Juventus v U.S. Sassuolo

ROME (Reuters) - Andrea Pirlo insists that Juventus' clash with Inter Milan on Sunday will not be fundamental to the outcome of the Serie A title race.

The Italian champions travel to the San Siro in fourth place, four points behind their second-placed hosts and seven behind league leaders AC Milan, with a game in hand on both.

Juve's nine-year stranglehold on the Italian league title is at risk this year, and Sunday's "Derby of Italy" has been billed as a key moment in the season.

"We never set out looking for a draw. We're going to San Siro to win," the coach said at a media conference.

"It's a match that will be important but not fundamental for the title," he said.

"I'm initially expecting an aggressive Inter that will give rhythm to the game. We've prepared for this and we must not be afraid of playing our own game, even in such an important match. It will be a tactical battle, but we must free our minds."

The game will see Pirlo go head-to-head with Inter coach Antonio Conte, who he worked under from 2011 to 2014 during his playing days at Juventus.

"He was the first person who made me think about becoming a coach. He taught me so much," Pirlo said.

"I thank him for that, now we're on two different benches, and tomorrow we'll be adversaries.”

(Reporting by Alasdair Mackenzie; Editing by Hugh Lawson)