Quarter final: first leg
Inter coach Roberto Mancini is hoping his strikers can return to form when the Italian side host Villarreal in their UEFA Champions League quarter-final first leg.
Although Inter have failed to score in just two matches since the turn of the year, none of their strikers have been firing on all cylinders.
“We certainly have to improve on recent performances, especially up front – we’ve missed so many chances,” said the coach, who could be without the injured Luís Figo.
“It’s not that the forwards aren’t in form, as all four of them are; they just need to be more accurate.”
It is the form of Adriano that has been of most concern to Mancini, although the Inter coach is confident that the Brazilian will soon be back to his best.
“He’s a true champion, even if he is not high on morale at the moment,” said the former Italy striker. “He has the ability to raise his game for a special occasion like this.”
Mancini was quick to scotch the notion that Villarreal represent an easy route into the last four for Inter.
“It’s not as straightforward a tie as many have suggested,” he added. “I laugh when I hear or read that it will be easy for us, after all Villarreal finished top of their group and helped eliminate Manchester United.”
Indeed, Villarreal coach Manuel Pellegrini is happy to play the role of underdog.
“Inter are under a lot of pressure because they’re the favourites,” said Pellegrini.
“As for us, well we were weaker than Everton, Rangers and United but we still won so we’re hoping for more of the same.”
Villarreal’s prospects are not helped by the loss through suspension of Alessio Tacchinardi, Josico and Rodolfo Arruabarrena. Moreover, Javi Venta, Antonio Guayre and Juan Manuel Pena are doubtful through injury.
Pellegrini has found inspiration from the unlikely Champions League triumph two years ago of Porto.
“It would be great to replicate Porto’s achievements of 2004, and I certainly hope we can,” he said.
“It’s been a long journey and long may it continue.”
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