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Cúper set for Mestalla return

Published: Thursday 21 March 2002, 19.00CET
Héctor Cúper's Internazionale FC must crack the home record he helped Valencia CF create.

Tournament statistics


Goals scored19
Attempts on target24
Attempts off target7
Fouls committed3
Yellow cards21
Red cards1


Published: Thursday 21 March 2002, 19.00CET

Cúper set for Mestalla return

Héctor Cúper's Internazionale FC must crack the home record he helped Valencia CF create.

The task facing Héctor Cúper and his Internazionale FC team in the Mestalla stadium on Thursday is to crack the formidable home record he helped Valencia CF create. Otherwise the Italian visitors and their Argentinian coach will have to rely on a high-scoring draw or victory via a penalty shoot-out if they are to secure a place in the semi-finals of the UEFA Cup.

Titanic clash
The balance in this titanic clash appears to favour the Spanish hosts after the away goal scored by Francisco Rufete in the Giuseppe Meazza stadium cancelled out Marco Materazzi's goal for Inter. Valencia's record on their own  ground can only increase their confidence: they are unbeaten in 34 European matches there, dating back to September 1992 when SSC Napoli recorded a 5-1 victory.

Vieri missing
Inter will be without Christian Vieri who, after limping out of Sunday's 2-1 victory over US Lecce, has stayed behind for treatment in the hope that he will be available to take part in Sunday's top-of-the-table clash with AS Roma. Ronaldo has also not travelled to Spain, while the home team are missing their Italian defender Amedeo Carboni. He sustained an injury last weekend when Valencia went down 2-1 to Rayo Vallecano, a defeat which also cost them the leadership of the Spanish league as Real Madrid CF went top on goal difference.

Carboni out
Brazilian Fabio Aurelio is set to replace Carboni and he said: "I want to play, I always want to, I do not care if the match is easy or very difficult. If I play on Thursday, I will do my best. Anyway, I hope Carboni can recover very soon". Aurelio also talked about the situation in the Valencia team after forfeiting the league leadership. "We are not happy about the defeat but it is not going to produce any effect for our next games. We believe we can do well in both competitions and we want to win both. I would prefer to have all the pressure of being at the top of the table but we still have eight matches to go. The team are capable of keeping the rhythm to win the league. There is no favourite."

Vicente back
Vicente Rodríguez is due to replace Kily González who is suspended following his dismissal during the first game. Coach Rafa Benítez, who replaced Héctor Cúper after the Argentinian had led Valencia to back-to-back appearances in the final of the UEFA Champions League, is also without Salva Ballesta, Jocelyn Angloma and Adrian Ilie through injury.

Farinós recovery
Javier Farinós, now recovered from muscle problems, is another former Valencia man revisiting old haunts for this game. The Inter midfield player, who left Spain two years ago, returned to the Mestalla last December for a friendly fixture and received a warm welcome. He said: "I hope the same will happen again. I would really be pleased. But this time I want to win with my team and the situation could be different. I will only concentrate on doing
my job."

'Small' advantage
Farinós admitted that Valencia have a "small" advantage and said it won't be easy for Inter. "Valencia have not lost at home in a European match for many years. They are one of the greatest teams in Europe. To win is never easy, but against Valencia it is even more difficult. Vieri is a very important player for us, but each Inter player is very talented and his absence should not weigh too much."

Domestic game
As big as this game is, Inter also have half an eye on Sunday's domestic encounter at the Giuseppe Meazza stadium against As Roma. Inter and Roma are currently tied at the top of the Serie A table on 56 points with Juventus FC one point behind. Alvaro Recoba, who scored twice last weekend, said: "We are ahead of two crucial games. It will determine most of our season. In Valencia we need to score, otherwise it's all over. And on Sunday we will decide our season against Roma."

Last updated: 16/11/12 7.42CET