First leg: Ajax 2-2 Inter
Internazionale coach Roberto Mancini is looking forward to playing in front of a crowd at home for the first time in Europe this season.
The Italian team played their three home group games behind closed doors following the behaviour of their supporters during last season’s quarter-final against arch-rivals Milan.
“We were starting to get used to playing without support,” Mancini laughed.
“Actually, in all seriousness, we really need them as the match will be tough. Inter and Ajax are similar teams, they like to attack and Ajax will come here looking to do just that.”
“We know Ajax play good football, even if they do have several youngsters. The club have a rich footballing history and have been playing in the same attacking style for years – with or without big-name players.”
Mancini will be without the suspended Ivan Cordoba, while there are doubts over the fitness of Juan Sebastian Veron, Alvaro Recoba and Luis Figo following Saturday’s 1-0 victory against Sampdoria.
Ajax coach Danny Blind is aware that his team need to attack if they are to stand a chance of progressing to the last eight.
“We need to score so we’ll attack, although maybe not from the start,” the Dutchman declared. “This is the game for us.”
“We’re growing in confidence,” admitted Blind, who welcomes Nourdin Boukhari back to the fold, although he is still without Hedwiges Maduro, Steven Pienaar and Johnny Heitinga still sidelined.
“Inter have always had quality and, under Mancini, they are more of a team,” said the Ajax coach.
“But anything can happen in knockout competition and although the first-leg draw didn’t do us too many favours, the door is always open.”
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