Roberto Mancini's FC Internazionale Milano will be looking for a considerable improvement in form when they host FC Porto in UEFA Champions League Group H on Tuesday night.
Porto's visit to the San Siro comes two weeks after the Portuguese side consigned the Nerazzurri to their first European defeat of the season. "We know it will be difficult against them and that we have to play a great game in order to win," said Mancini. "Last time out we had some chances but weren't able to capitalise."
Inter drop points
Despite the 2-0 reverse in Portugal, Inter top the group with six points while Porto sit bottom with three. Yet Mancini has cause for concern given Inter's recent results in Serie A. The Nerazzurri dropped points in a midweek home defeat by AS Roma before having to settle for a 2-2 draw at UC Sampdoria on Saturday. They are down to fourth in the table.
Mancini acknowledged the setbacks but seemed confident his team would ride out the storm. "We were unlucky in Porto because we conceded two own goals and in these cases it's legitimate to talk about bad luck."
Change of tack
Porto's Matchday 3 victory also owed to an impressive first-half blitz and the fact Inter opted for a five-man midfield with a single striker. This time around Mancini wasn't coy about his starting lineup and admitted that Adriano, who has yet to score in the group stage, and Obafemi Martins would start up front.
Inter received a further boost with the news that captain Javier Zanetti would be available for what could be his first appearance since falling injured on the opening weekend of the campaign. "We want victory at all costs and we know we can get it," said Zanetti, who may start on the bench.
Behind closed doors
The Italian club would rather have seen Zanetti make his return in front of his home fans but Inter continue to play behind closed doors in the UEFA Champions League following crowd trouble at last season's quarter-final. "It's not easy for anyone on the pitch in these circumstances but we still want to play a great match out there," added Zanetti.
Not having to deal with a partisan crowd should at least please Porto. The 2004 European champions had their reign ended by Inter last term - with a 3-1 defeat in Milan following a 1-1 home draw in the Round of 16 - and they have lost twice already in Group H, against Rangers FC and FC Artmedia.
'We want to score and win'
"I know it is always difficult to come away from here with a win," said coach Co Adriaanse who welcomes back Diego and Lisandro López. With his team bottom of the section, Adriaanse also recognises that they cannot afford to sit back against the hosts. "A draw would be a great result but we are an attacking side who want to score lots of goals and play to win."
'Ready for anything'
If the visitors are true to their word and attack, the onus will be on the back line – who kept their part of the bargain in Saturday's 0-0 Liga draw at home to Vitória FC – to thwart the forward runs of Adriano and Martins. Goalkeeper Vítor Baía, a veteran of three UEFA Champions League ties against Inter this calendar year, expressed confidence in his team-mates' ability to do the job. "We are working very well as a unit and I think the group are very relaxed and ready for anything," he said.
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