Group F – Kick-off 19:45 (BST)
Kurban Berdyev was keen to play down Rubin Kazan’s chances of springing another major surprise at Internazionale in tonight’s Group F decider.
The teams are tied for second on six points but while Jose Mourinho is confident Inter are “a better team” and will win.
Victory for either side would guarantee progress at their opponents’ expense, while a 0-0 or 1-1 result would ensure Inter finish higher and any other draw would favour Rubin on away goals. However, if the points are shared both teams need leaders Barcelona to take something from their meeting with Dynamo Kyiv to have a chance of reaching the knockout stages.
“I want to compliment Rubin for their league title; I want the team, the coach and their supporters to know they have won a really tough league with five or six great teams involved,” said Mourinho.
“We are not afraid of this game, though, not at all. We’re a better team than Rubin and I think we will win. I expect us to win; we have to do that, not to draw.
“Nobody knows which starting XI I will field against Rubin, not even my assistants, but journalists are very good at guessing so they will have no problems.
“I haven’t prepared for this game in a particular way, we haven’t done specific work to cope with the pressure; all we have to do is concentrate on winning. As we haven’t even qualified we can’t afford to think about first or second place.”
Meanwhile, Berdyev lamented the fact that his side were playing such a crucial fixture at the end of a long, tiring domestic campaign.
“It’s the first time we have had to prepare a very important game like this in December and it’s not easy,” he said. “The Russian league has ended and we are very tired, both physically and psychologically. We have tried to do our best to approach this game in the right way.
“I know Mourinho said they will win: we will see. Inter won’t just think about defending, they will try to attack. They have had a few problems recently but I don’t think that will influence the game.
“Even if we don’t go through this has been an incredible experience for us. It was amazing to beat Barcelona and of course we want to qualify; but even if we don’t we will remember this campaign as a wonderful experience.”