Despite FC Internazionale Milano losing the first leg of their UEFA Champions League quarter-final 5-2 at home to FC Schalke 04, Javier Zanetti has not relinquished all hope of the Nerazzurri creating history by progressing to the last four.
If the annals are anything to go by, conceding five goals at home signals the end of the road for a team in Europe's premier club competition − no side has come back from such a heavy home defeat to win a UEFA Champions League tie. The Inter captain, however, insists there is always a first time for everything and believes the holders have the ability to turn the tide in Gelsenkirchen on Wednesday.
"We know that a difficult task lies ahead, but we have 90 minutes to make our comeback reality," said the 37-year-old. "We need a fantastic result to do so. We have to believe. From my rich experience I can say that a lot of things can happen in 90 minutes."
With Inter's back line all at sea last week, Zanetti knows it will not be difficult for the Italian champions to deliver an improvement. "The key is to make less mistakes than we did in the first leg and to create as many opportunities as possible," he said succinctly.
Much discussion in the German press has centered on the absence of Schalke's suspended striker Jefferson Farfán. Zanetti − who skippered Inter to European glory against Schalke's domestic rivals, FC Bayern München, 11 months ago − preferred to focus on his team and what they are capable of. "I know him well from international matches in South America," he said of the Peru forward. "He is a very important player, no doubt, but we have to concentrate on imposing our game on them."
It was suggested in Italy last week that Leonardo's team had underestimated their mid-table Bundesliga opponents. Zanetti begs to differ. "I respect Schalke, they are a great side," he explained. "A team that has come so far has shown its worth. We did not underestimate them − we had lots of respect for them. We will have to do better than in the first leg."
Overturning what is essentially a four-goal deficit due to Schalke's volume of away goals will not be easy, though. In the history of UEFA competition, only three teams have achieved the feat, most recently Real Madrid CF in the 1985/86 UEFA Cup third round against VfL Borussia Mönchengladbach.
"We know how difficult it will be," said Argentina's most-capped player. "We will have to put in a great performance to make it happen, but we can always field a strong side, and that's what I draw confidence from."
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