FC Internazionale Milano captain Javier Zanetti is relishing his continued role in the team as he targets a third successive win for the Group G pacesetters.
Article top media content
He may not be as big a star as Luís Figo or Zlatan Ibrahimović but Javier Zanetti is relishing his continued importance to the FC Internazionale Milano side he will lead against PFC CSKA Moskva on Wednesday – seeking a third successive win in UEFA Champions League Group G.
One of Inter's elder statesmen, Zanetti's enthusiasm for the Nerazzurri is matched only by his influence on the team. The 34-year-old was ever-present for them in last season's UEFA Champions League campaign and, now in his 13th term at the club, the captain is the only player to have featured in all 14 Serie A and European matches to date. "It's a wonderful feeling to be ever-present," he said. "For me, it is important to still be valued and considered an important member of the side."
With 106 appearances in UEFA competition under his belt, Zanetti's experience is particularly crucial as Inter struggle with a raft of injuries to key players. Ditto his versatility. The 115-times capped Argentinian international can play at left or right-back as well as anywhere across the midfield, which with Luís Figo – who broke his leg against Juventus on Sunday – Patrick Vieira, Dejan Stanković and Marco Materazzi injured, is essential for a depleted team attempting to strengthen their grip on Group G.
"I've played a lot of games so far this season, but as far as I'm concerned the more the merrier," said Zanetti. "I prefer playing regularly and I'm happiest giving my all for the side. I have no real preference for defence or midfield – it all depends on the circumstances. In some matches my characteristics are better suited to midfield, other times I'm better off coming forward from deep."
Wherever Zanetti plays, he knows that a winning contribution from his side, who head the section by a point from Fenerbahçe SK, is the most important factor. The Italian champions defeated CSKA in Moscow two weeks ago, though only after coming from behind following an opening goal by Jô. "It's a big match because we know that if we win we'll be pretty close to qualifying. We'll need to watch their attack as Jô is a good player who can cause problems, but it is down to us to take the game to them and win on our own terms.
"It's a terrible shame what happened to Luís [Figo]," he continued. "We certainly could have done without it because he is an important player for us, on and off the field. He has great presence and experience and he will be sorely missed, but this squad has come through worse and this is just another obstacle to overcome. It's happened at a time when we have lots of injuries but we'll just have to deal with it."