Midfielder Dejan Stanković said FC Internazionale Milano "don't have to fear" FC Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League semi-finals after the Nerazzurri completed a 2-0 aggregate victory over PFC CSKA Moskva.
José Mourinho's team will renew acquaintances with the holders having failed to score in two matches against Barcelona during the group stage. The Serie A leaders drew 0-0 at home and lost 2-0 at the Camp Nou, but Stanković is unconcerned and expects two different encounters, starting on 20 April at San Siro.
"I'm sure it won't be like in the group stage, it will be a hard-fought tie this time," said Stanković, whose side have reached their first semi-final since 2003. "We have worked hard to convince ourselves we are a great team and that it would be a pity to waste everything. In the last few games we proved we are eager to go all the way. We don't have to fear Barcelona – respect them but not fear them."
Javier Zanetti, the Nerazzurri captain, agreed with his team-mate's confidence, saying: "We know our strengths and that we can compete with any team, and that's what we're showing." With leaders Inter only a point clear of AS Roma in Serie A, however, Zanetti also urged his team-mates not to let the lure of a final scupper their chances of landing a fifth successive Scudetto.
"We can't take our eyes off the championship," added the right-back. "We have Roma one point behind us, and Milan three, and the run-in will be very close. We're just thinking about Fiorentina this weekend, which will obviously be a tricky game, but tonight's match will serve us well in our league campaign."
Having accounted for a fancied Chelsea FC outfit in the first knockout round and kept two clean sheets against CSKA in the quarter-finals, centre-back Lucio sees no reason why Inter cannot be crowned European champions for the first time in 45 years. "We know the other teams are very strong but we have to believe it's possible to go all the way," he said. "Now we have three games to become champions and we must believe we can do it."
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