Valencia play Inter tonight knowing that they need to win to keep alive any hopes of winning a major trophy this season.
The Spanish side lost 1-0 against Valladoid at the weekend, whichdropped them to fifth and puts them in danger of missing out on qualifying for next season’s Champions League via La Liga.
Valencia lost 1-0 at the San Siro in the first leg a fortnight ago and coach Rafa Benitez has been critical of his player’s attitude in recent weeks.
“The squad has many people who know what is needed,” he said.
“But when they do not perform it spreads throughout the whole dressing room.
“Everyone should know what is expected on a personal and a professional level, but that does not always happen.”
He admits that he cannot be absolved of any blame for the side’s current form. “I do not want to wash my hands of all the blame and maybe I could have done more at critical moments in the season.
“Now we must prove that we want to win things and that we can perform when we meet Inter.”
Valencia go into the gamewithout suspended skipper David Albelda. His absence may mean Pablo Aimar drops into midfield to fill the void. Rafete faces a late fitness test and Benitez must choose between Mista or Juan Sanchez to partner John Carew up front.
Inter kept their slim hopes of winning the Scudetto alive at the weekend by beating Brescia 1-0 with a late goal from Hernan Crespo. They go into the game favourites as they have a one goal advantage and crucially, have not conceded an away goal.
Despite their advantage, coach Hector Cuper claims his side will not go out and play for a draw.
“You always need to take risks to win Champions League matches,” said Cuper, who has lost two finals as coach of Valencia.
“I can’t tell my players to play for a draw. You always have to play to win.”
He says he has no excuse if his side does not progress even though he has several key players unavailable.
“I won’t hide myself behind the problems we have, especially the absences,” he said.
“Inter are a side that have the resources to replace their own players. There are difficulties that can be overcome.
“The midfield will be important, we’ll have to play tomorrow’s match with intelligence, without thinking about the result in the first leg. We’ll start from 0-0.”
Striker Crespo believes it is vital thatInter score tonight.
“We arrive at Valencia to play the second half of a 180 minute match and we must score once.”
Despite scoring at the weekend, Crespo is not sure whether he will be selected or not.
“The Champion’s League is another competition and I do not know if I will play or not,” the Argentinian admits.
“These decision’s are taken only by the coach.”
Inter are without the suspended Emre, along with Cannavaro, Coco and Morfeo.
Despite his reservations, Crespo is expected to partner Vieri up front as Batistuta isineligible.
The winners of the tie will play either Milan or Ajax in the semis.
Valencia: Santiago Canizares, Anthony Reveillere, Roberto Ayala, Mauricio Pellegrino, Amedeo Carboni, Francisco Rufete, Ruben Baraja, Pablo Aimar, Vicente, John Carew, Miguel Angel Angulo.
Inter: Francesco Toldo, Javier Zanetti, Marco Materazzi, Ivan Cordoba, Giovanni Pasquale, Buruk Okan, Luigi Di Biagio, Cristiano Zanetti, Stephane Dalmat, Christian Vieri, Hernan Crespo.