It is not easy to put a positive spin on a run of four consecutive league defeats, so the Olympique de Marseille goalkeeper, Steve Mandanda, chose another option – to ignore it altogether – as he insisted his team's poor domestic form would have no bearing on their UEFA Champions League fate at FC Internazionale Milano on Tuesday night.
"We arrive here in Milan full of confidence and with a winning spirit after the victory in the first leg," he said at a press conference on Monday, looking ahead to the challenge of defending Marseille's 1-0 first-leg advantage. That said, OM captain Mandanda did accept that it would not be easy for his side to reach their first quarter-final in the competition since their triumphant 1992/93 campaign, despite the lead given them by André Ayew's late header in France on 22 February.
For a start there is the fact that Inter, whatever their recent troubles, remain "a strong team with great players"; then there is the boost they received when ending their own losing streak with victory over AC Chievo Verona on Friday. "
They are a very tough opponent so it will be crucial to improve on our recent performances," added the 26-year-old Mandanda, now in his fifth season at the Stade Vélodrome. "Inter won their last Serie A fixture so they are starting to recover and will be up for this match."
Mandanda, a Congo-born French international, has been an ever present in the UEFA Champions League this term, making seven appearances and collecting four clean sheets and tomorrow will bring his 50th game in UEFA club competitions. There is only way to mark the occasion in his mind. "It would be very nice to win and get through – that's just the kind of celebration I like."
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