First knockout round – second leg (first leg: Liverpool 2-0 Inter)
Internazionale coach Roberto Mancini has called on his players to draw inspiration from the achievements of the past for tonight’s first knockout round second leg against Liverpool.
Mancini has cited the exploits of the 1965 Inter team that overturned a 3-1 semi-final first-leg defeat at Anfield to win 3-0 at San Siro before going on to claim a second successive European Champion Clubs’ Cup. Inter find themselves in a similar predicament tonight as they seek to overcome the 2-0 deficit from the first leg.
“People remember that match in 1965 because it was an extraordinary night and Inter turned around a deficit which seemed impossible,” said Mancini. “I hope that, in 43 years’ time, people will be talking about this match in the same way. Sometimes history repeats itself. I hope that we’ll be remembered the same way but it won’t be easy.
“The history of the UEFA Champions League is littered with memorable nights when teams have come back from seemingly impossible situations.
“I believe a full stadium can make the difference. If the match is going well, the crowd could be decisive.”
Inter’s cause is not helped by injuries and suspensions, with their defence missing Walter Samuel (knee), Iván Cordoba (knee), Maxwell (ankle) and Marco Materazzi (suspended).
Mancini hinted he may play five across the midfield despite his side’s need for goals.
“With many unavailable, it could be a possibility,” he said. “To overhaul a 2-0 scoreline we will have to be perfect from every point of view.
“We must play the perfect match, trying not to give Liverpool space. I am not pessimistic, I believe it is possible to go through.”
Liverpool are no strangers to unlikely combacks, having scored three goals in seven minutes to beat Inter’s city rivals Milan in the 2005 final on penalties.
Manager Rafael Benítez says his team’s European achievement makes him “proud” and agreed with Mancini’s suggestion that the visitors have not come to defend.
“We are in good form at the moment, so the idea is to play our own game and try to score one goal,” he said.
Benitez will be without Daniel Agger (metatarsal) and Xavi Alonso (partner about to give birth) are out, but the prolific Fernando Torres is available.
“He is on fire,” said Benítez of the striker who has registered seven goals since the first leg.
“He is always trying to improve and hopefully he will score here. I believe that Torres is the ideal player for this, if we score one then we will surely be through.”