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FC Barcelona's Gabriel Milito and elder brother Diego, of FC Internazionale Milano, may come face to face in Wednesday's UEFA Champions League semi-final second leg but the defender, whose side trail 3-1 in the tie, told UEFA.com that sibling rivalry will be secondary at the Camp Nou.
"This match is obviously very important for both of us," said Gabriel, a potential starter in the absence of the suspended Carles Puyol. "We both want to win, but our relationship is not going to change due to a football match. I've always seen him as just another opponent so from that point of view, when the match starts, our family relationship is non-existent. It's great to play against each other and in the future it will be a beautiful memory."
The pair were team-mates at Real Zaragoza between 2005 and 2007 but, as Diego explains, their relationship when on opposite sides has not always been so cordial. "We have played together often, and also faced each other many times, which is always special.
"The match I remember most was back in Argentina when we faced each other in a derby – we actually had a fight in the game," added Diego, who, as a centre-forward, would come up directly against his brother. "The referee had to pull us apart because we kept on shouting terrible things at each other. It was fairly childish behaviour, like we were kids at home."
Although the impetuosity of youth has softened, differences between the duo remain. Gabriel is keen to praise his "relaxed" brother but Diego is less kind, saying of his sibling: "He gets angry very easily." There are marked discrepancies, too, between their respective teams according to centre-back Gabriel, who only returned to action in January after more than 20 months out injured.
"There are different ways of playing," said the 29-year-old. "The important thing is that everybody believes in their style. We face each other in the semi-finals of this very important and prestigious competition. We want to reach the final and so do they."
Diego has struck 20 times in Serie A in his debut season with Inter and added four in the UEFA Champions League, including the final goal at San Siro last week. It crowned an impressive Nerazzurri comeback against the European champions, who had taken an early lead through Pedro Rodríguez.
Inter became the first team to score three against Josep Guardiola's side this term and although protecting their advantage in Spain will be the priority, Diego warns against abandoning the attacking intent that has served them so well. "It is a lot of work to play with three attackers but we feel good with it," he continued. "It also gives us the opportunity to change the flow of a match, reduce their offensive power and slow down the opposition. This is our strength."
Whether Barcelona are tamed in Catalonia or not, brotherly relations will ensure the Militos keep the result in perspective. "The one who goes through will be congratulated by the other," said Gabriel. "We definitely have a lot of respect for each other and even more so right now because there's a lot at stake. It's a step towards the Champions League final, which might be the pinnacle of our careers."
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