Inter Milan v Bayern Munich
Second Round, UEFA Champions League
Wednesday, 23 February
Kickoff: 19:45 GMT, 20:45 CET
Last year’s Champions League finalists meet at the San Siro on Wednesday as Inter Milan and Bayern Munich contest the first leg of their round of 16 tie.
Inter Milan v Bayern Munich Preview
Holders Inter, second in qualifying group A behind Tottenham, miss Diego Milito who has a hamstring injury. Lucio and Wesley Sneijder should play after being rested at the weekend.
Top scorer Mario Gomez (ankle) is a doubt for Bayern but goalkeeper Thomas Kraft is set to start despite coming off with a head injury on Saturday.
Inter Milan manager Leonardo is his usual respectful self:
“This is a completely different moment (compared to last year’s final) and every game is a different story.
This team has its basic structure but every game offers a different challenge. Naturally I’ll start with the fittest, most on-form players I have available. The league is one thing, the Champions League another. We have various options at our disposal, although fewer than we do in the league.
Yes, I watched the final in Madrid. Which side was I supporting? Whatever I answer could be interpreted as insincere. But I was cheering on Inter; I was supporting the Italian team. It was satisfying to see Inter win that match.
We’ve come through an energy-sapping period but we’ve recovered well and go into this Champions League game with massive motivation. What are Bayern Munich’s strengths and weaknesses? Every team has them. Would I settle for a 3-2 win tomorrow? We know how it works in Europe. Unlike in the league, that wouldn’t be the best result…
The Champions League is a competition that brings together lots of great players and great teams with big ambitions; that means there is more tendency for teams to try and play their own game rather than just containing their opponents. The matches are more open. I like the more attacking mentality you find in the Champions League. This team are the reigning champions and they can beat anyone. We’ll fight with all we’ve got: the team is capable of overcoming any difficulty and I take strength from that. We will approach the game as champions should.
Inter and Bayern Munich are two sides with the resources to tackle whatever they come up against and they are evenly matched.”
Bayern manager Louis van Gaal on the other hand, is happy to play the mind games:
“I haven’t seen Inter play differently so far. Everybody who has seen last year’s Champions League final knows how they play. It’s enough to have a look at them every now and then to know nothing has changed.
Even against Cagliari last weekend, they did absolutely nothing going forward. They kept things tight at the back and let all the attacking up to their opponents.
It’s clear to see that many coaches and teams opt to employ defensive tactics these days. I want to offer the fans something else though and try to entertain them by playing attacking football.
Obviously, that’s much more difficult than just focusing on defending, but that’s my football philosophy.
This match is not about revenge for us. We just want to win this game, regardless of last year. The reigning champions are always the favourites, in this case Inter, especially bearing in mind that they play at home.”
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