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It is rare to hear the word revenge used by top-level coaches and players, even though supporters love the possibility of giving a rival some payback.
However, it was Valencia CF coach Quique Sánchez Flores who raised the concept when he revealed that all around his city, fans are eager to see Los Che even the score against FC Internazionale Milano following various European eliminations by the Nerazzurri in recent years. With their first knockout round tie poised at 2-2 going into Tuesday's decider, the Valencia players know any victory or low-scoring draw will see them into the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals for the first time in four years.
Midfielder Rubén Baraja is a survivor of three Valencia exits at Inter's hands, and even scored in a futile 2-1 home victory in the last eight of this competiton four seasons ago. The Spanish international admits there is an extra buzz to such a match after what has gone before between the two teams. "Perhaps Inter are the club who have done us most damage in a sporting sense over the last few years," Baraja said.
"It's true that players think about revenge in a different way to the fans. But the fact that Inter have knocked us out of two European competitions in the last few years, and won by scoring five goals the last time they were here, is motivation for us. We have the good fortune to have given a good performance in the away match and now we need to take advantage of that."
Effects of injury
However, Baraja is just returning to the side after a four-week lay-off. He concedes he is not at his "very best" and is "feeling the soreness after so long out injured". The 31-year-old continued: "I've been in this situation before, and if the coach calls on me then this is the type of challenge when you can compensate for a lack of stamina and sharpness with the pride and ambition that it stirs within you."
A UEFA Champions League runner-up in 2001, Baraja is quick to identify the man who will present Inter's greatest threat, however, saying: "Luís Figo was exceptional in the first leg. His change of environment has certainly freshened him up and I know we will have to be particularly careful of him if we want to impose ourselves on the match and win the tie."
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