Quarter-final, first leg – Kick-off: 20-45 (CET)
Jose Mourinho believes quarter-final visitors CSKA Moscow will be a tough nut to crack but is calling on Internazionale fans for a repeat of the support they provided against Chelsea.
Mourinho is delighted with Inter’s European form – less so, their recent domestic performances – but he acknowledges that CSKA will be no pushovers
“Inter are having a great Champions League campaign, the best in many years, and we are determined to reach the semi-finals,” said Mourinho. “We have played four games against two of the best teams in the world. In eight games in total we lost only once at Barcelona.
“The tie against Chelsea was fantastic and we did well when under pressure in the group stage. CSKA were also in a tough group which included Manchester United and then qualified for the quarter-finals by beating a quality team in Sevilla. We had great support from our fans at home against Chelsea and I expect the same against CSKA as it will be another difficult game.
“CSKA were physically impressive when they played at United. Their season has just started but they don’t need to run much with their playing style. Their players try to stay as close as possible to each other on the pitch, all their defenders and defensive midfielders are strong physically and then they have three players with great pace for counterattacks who help out in defence when needed. This is the reason why they play so well in away games.”
Meanwhile, CSKA coach, Leonid Slutsky, conceded that Inter were strong favourites to reach the semi-finals.
“They are clearly the favourites, Inter are a great team and everybody thinks they are going to win,” he said. “But tomorrow we will show we deserve to be here. We have not played that well lately though every team has highs and lows – I saw Inter playing against Catania and it was nothing like their performance against Chelsea, for example.
“All the quarter-finalists are strong and everybody probably hoped to draw us. We will play our usual game tomorrow and see what happens. Both teams will try to win, so it’s not going to be a boring game. [Inter] will not be thinking about their league problems and while they lost on Saturday they also hit the woodwork three times.”