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Ranieri prays for Milanese miracle

Published: Tuesday 2 November 2004, 12.40CET
Valencia CF will fight to keep their Group G hopes alive when they visit FC Internazionale Milano. features

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Published: Tuesday 2 November 2004, 12.40CET

Ranieri prays for Milanese miracle

Valencia CF will fight to keep their Group G hopes alive when they visit FC Internazionale Milano.
By Brian Brownstein
Valencia CF coach Claudio Ranieri believes his side must beat FC Internazionale Milano tonight if they are to have any chance of progressing to the knockout stages of the UEFA Champions League.

All or nothing
The Primera División champions lost 5-1 against the Nerazzurri at home in the corresponding fixture two weeks ago, leaving them languishing three points adrift of second place in Group G. Ranieri is only too aware his side must win in Italy to maintain any realistic chance of qualifying. "This game is very important to us," the Italian told "We have to fight until the end for victory. All I am thinking about is winning."

Bad run
The game at the San Siro has taken on special significance for Ranieri who has come in for some fierce criticism. His side have endured a dismal run, ending a five-game losing streak with a 1-1 draw in the league against Club Atlético de Madrid at home last weekend. Even then, Valencia squandered a 1-0 lead against ten men, and Ranieri knows he must get a result in his homeland if he is to avoid coming under more scrutiny.

Players' role
"The most influential factor will be how important this game is for the players," he said. "I trust in their quality and that they can come away with a victory. We have to control the game. My trust is in the Valencia players." Ranieri will change the way he goes about this game after Inter broke through his team's defence almost at will in their first meeting at the Mestella. He is confident things will go to plan, and the necessary result will be secured.

Inter counterattack
He said: "We went into the first game off the back of our home defeat against Sevilla, and I think we were still feeling the effects. We played for the win against Inter but they took advantage of this on the counterattack. That week was not Valencia's week. I will adjust our tactics; if they don't have the ball they won't have the opportunities. We must not allow them to have possession."

Glory hunters
The Rome-born manager is in his second stint at Valencia. In his first spell with the club, Ranieri added the 1999 Spanish Cup to his honours list and was credited with laying the foundations for the side that reached successive Champions League finals in 2000 and 2001.

Anderlecht help
If Valencia are to meet their fans' expectations this season, the former Chelsea FC manager believes victory against Inter is not the only pre-requisite. Ranieri's side must rely on the other teams in their group to give them a helping hand. "We have to try to win the three games we have left in our group to get through to the next phase, yet I hope [RSC] Anderlecht will help us with a good result against [second-placed] Werder Bremen," he said.

Last updated: 02/11/04 15.55CET

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