Quarter-final, first leg – Kick-off 19:45 (BST)
Having seen Inter’s chances of retaining the Scudetto suffer a setback with defeat by Serie A leaders Milan on Saturday, Leonardo is expecting an positive response from his players when they host Schalke in the Champions League.
“I know Schalke haven’t had many good results in the league, but they have in the Champions League so we must not underestimate them – they did not reach the quarter-finals by being lucky,” said Leonardo. “Even without several injured players they have done well, finding a good balance on the pitch, as they have shown in the German Cup [reaching May’s final]. They’re having a good spell and morale is high.
“Raúl González is symbolic of their good European campaign, he’s always a threat. He’s one of the all-time greats – he chose to leave Madrid for another country and is still dictating things.
“The way we qualified (defeating Bayern Munich 3-2 away from home) has brought confidence, proving that we never give up. That’s what we want to keep doing – it doesn’t matter if we lost the derby on Saturday. I respect the criticism I have had since then but the first-minute goal made life complicated. We’re obviously disappointed, but I’m sure my players will react and, yes, I’ve never won a Champions League game at home [as a coach] but I’m not dwelling on it.”
Andrea Ranocchia and Cristian Chivu overcame injuries to start against Milan, while Diego Milito made his first appearance since suffering a recurrence of a long-standing thigh problem on 6 February.
The German team arrive with a new man in charge in Ralf Rangnick, who has spent much of the build-up to the tie getting to know his squad.
“The last [few] weeks haven’t been easy for Schalke, but in recent days the team has worked well together,” he said. “You could see it in our last league game, even though tomorrow will be a completely different match. We will try to produce a good performance for the supporters.
“I saw the Milan derby and I know it’s never a nice thing to lose such a game. The supporters were disappointed but their team has good qualities. In any case, we have to focus on ourselves; we have to work as a team and try to get a good result.
“I arrived at Schalke ten days ago, and before focusing on this game I had to study my team. My players played well on Friday − they proved they can do what I asked them to do. I tried to prepare my team for this game from Saturday, but we still have to see how Inter will play. The most important thing, though, is that we have to think about ourselves rather than our opponents.”
Christoph Metzelder broke his nose in Friday’s abandoned game at St Pauli but could feature wearing a protective mask. However, there are doubts over Mario Gavranovic and Peer Kluge, while Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, Christoph Moritz and Christian Pander are definitely out.