Semi-final, first leg – Kick-off: 20-45 (CET)
Inter coach José Mourinho believes his side are “much stronger” than when they faced Barcelona in the group stage as the two teams meet again in the Champions League semi-finals.
While he was happy for Barcelona to be considered favourites ahead of Tuesday’s first leg at San Siro, Mourinho believes his side have an even chance of reaching the final.
“Barca deserved to win in November,” he said. “They are as strong now as they were then, but we are much stronger. I don’t mind if the football world considers them favourites, I think we have a 50% chance of playing in the final.
“What I do not like is to talk about this game as if it were a final; the real final will be played in Madrid. Lyon and Bayern have the same chances of winning the trophy as Barcelona and Inter have.
“Everybody talks about Messi, but football is not an individual sport, though of course he is a player who deserves special attention.
“I worked with Puyol ten years ago, but he seems to be the same player. He looks like a 21-year-old, not a 30-year-old. Success has not changed him and that’s the best thing for a player.”
Having endured a 14-hour coach trip to Milan, Barcelona coach Josep Guardiola admitted that the journey was hardly an ideal preparation for such an important tie.
“It’s not just us playing; Inter are as well,” he said. “They have been Italian champions for four years in a row. It is not the ideal situation for us to travel 14 hours by coach after a league game and before a semi-final against Inter, but you cannot stop a volcano, can you?
“We decided to use two busses to have more space and I didn’t travel with the players because I think it’s better for them not to always have their coach with them. Luckily Inter eliminated CSKA so we haven’t had to go to Moscow by bus!
“I don’t want to think about the league; we are in a Champions League semi-final for the third time in a row and I want to savour it. [Saturday’s 0-0 draw at] Espanyol is history.
“Inter can play in a variety of ways. They have versatile players who do whatever their coach asks. I have no idea which Inter to expect. We want to be ourselves – we have to.