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The eight remaining teams in Europe’s premier competition go head to head and the tie could not have come at a better – or worse – time for Italy’s last hope Internazionale. Qasa Alom looks ahead to this week’s action

The reigning European champions have been in heroic form recently, epitomized by their last gasp victory over Bayern Munich in the last round of the Champions League as well as taking 37 points in 16 games in the league under Brazilian manager Leonardo. However the side’s buoyant mood and samba style euphoria may now have plummeted back down to earthly levels after the side suffered a humiliating 3-0 defeat to league leaders AC Milan over at the weekend.

Javier Zanetti, the club’s vastly experienced captain believes that result will have no bearing on the quarter final first leg and that the team is fully focused on the job at hand.

“It’s not nice to lose that type of game, it’s a disappointment to everyone. But we have to look forward.”  Javier Zanetti. April 2011

This statement is certainly echoed by Schalke’s new boss Ralfe Rangnick, who believes that “after their crushing derby defeat, Inter will be very motivated and will try everything to bounce back” Ragnick has only been with the club under a fortnight and only been in charge for one competitive game.

The former Stuttgart manager has had a ‘modest’ managerial career to say the least and spent Saturday night in the San Siro to plott his assault on the three times European champions. Yet, it was the booming noise and “intimidating atmosphere” of the Giuseppe Meazza that caused the Schalke boss the much the most concern.

He will be hoping that his more experienced players such as Raul and Christoph Metzelder will be able to guide a mostly inexperienced side that will also have to do without the services of Klaas Jan Huntelaar, who - much like last season when he counted the San Siro as his home – will have to watch the game from the sidelines.

There are no such injury concerns for Inter though, as Leonardo can invite last seasons’ top scorer Diego Milito back into the fold in an attempt to gain vengeance on the German side for the 1997 Uefa cup shock loss in the final. The Argentinean has been in indifferent form this year and comprehensively overshadowed by Samuel Eto’o, who coincidentally is this seasons’ joint top scorer with 8 goals to his name. Interesti will be looking to both explosive forward to guide the team one step closer to the semi final’s…and one step closer to salvaging their topsy-turvy season as well.

In the competitions other ties, former Inter boss Jose Mourinho has made the surprise inclusion of Kaká in the squad as Real entertain this season’s mavericks Tottenham Hotspurs. The Portuguese manager astonishingly lost his home unbeaten record over the weekend – a run that has spanned 4 clubs, 150 games and 9 years – and will be aiming to nullify the North London sides’ expansive wing play to edge the Spanish giants nearer to their 10th European title.

And in Wednesday’s matches, Carlo Ancelotti will be on familiar territory as he gets set to face Sir Alex Ferguson in the Champions League knock-out stages…again. The last time these two men squared off in the competition, the former Milan coach masterminded a tremendous second leg comeback en route to winning the cup for his second time as manager. He’ll be hoping the likes of Fernando Torres and Didier Drogba can return to form to continue his winning streak against Manchester United and finally get Roman Abramovitch’s hands on ol’big ears.

Finally Giuseppe Rossi’s Villareal will be hot favourites against FC Twente in the Europa league. The yellow submariner’s are unbeaten in the last six ties in the competition and will cast their minds back to the last time they played a Dutch side for inspiration. Indeed the Italian international has fond memories of that tie, scoring 3 of the 9 goals over the two legs and will want to consolidate his position as the tournaments top scorer.

Qasa Alom

Broadcast Journalist. Writer for Serieaweekly, subtitled online or anyone else daft enough to want me. These are my thoughts (even the clever ones)

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One Response so far.

  1. fidel says:

    why can some coaches not learn?playing Etoo as the main striker in 8 games yielded 8 goals and 5 assist.So why did Leo not play Etoo up at the point?there is a saying that we do not change a winning formular.

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