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Mancini calls for Inter sang-froid

His side may be sitting at the Group G summit, but Roberto Mancini has called on FC Internazionale Milano to bare their teeth when they host PFC CSKA Moskva.

Roberto Mancini is not underestimating Inter's opponents
Roberto Mancini is not underestimating Inter's opponents ©Getty Images

His side may be handily placed at the UEFA Champions League Group G summit, but Roberto Mancini has called on FC Internazionale Milano to bare their teeth when they welcome PFC CSKA Moskva to the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza.

Inter were made to pay for some wayward finishing against Juventus on Sunday as a deflected shot by Mauro Camoranesi 13 minutes from time cancelled out Julio Cruz's opening goal to seal a 1-1 Serie A draw. Both Zlatan Ibrahimović and David Suazo passed up presentable opportunities to put the result beyond doubt, and Mancini is demanding more sang-froid against the Russian visitors as Inter seek a third successive Group G victory. "We need to be more ruthless in front of goal," he said. "As a match progresses anything can happen – players can get injured, your team can tire. So it is important to take your chances when they come."

Mancini upbeat
The complexion of Sunday's game in Turin altered substantially in the second half from the moment Luís Figo left the field with a fractured right leg, to join Marco Materazzi (thigh), Patrick Vieira (calf), Dejan Stanković (ankle) and Francesco Toldo (foot) on a daunting long-term injury list. Nonetheless, Mancini remains upbeat about his side's fortunes and not without just cause. Having won the Italian title by 22 points last season, the Nerazzurri are the Serie A pacesetters again and sit a point clear atop their UEFA Champions League pool, five above last-placed CSKA. "If we win, we won't be far away from qualifying but it won't be easy because CSKA have key players back from injury and they need to win to stay alive," said Mancini.

CSKA absences
The Premier-Liga team lost 2-1 to Inter in Moscow two weeks ago after Hernán Crespo and Walter Samuel answered Jô's opening strike, but are lifted by the return of Igor Akinfeev, Aleksei Berezutski and Vágner Love, who could partner Jô up front. Akinfeev and Berezutski were both in action on Saturday as CSKA beat FC Kuban Krasnodar 1-0 to move up to third in the Russian standings, although they are out of the title race and UEFA Champions League qualifying contention. "We will play as though we are at home," said CSKA coach Valeri Gazzaev. "We have to because anything less than a win is not enough. We played a great first half against Inter, sustained injuries to two players and our goalkeeper made a bad mistake for their winner. If we avoid silly mistakes we have a chance."

'Best side'
It is an assessment shared by Mancini, who is full of admiration for CSKA and taking nothing for granted. "I said at the very start that CSKA were a good side and I still think that they are the best team in Russia, even if they are now out of the championship race," he said. "They have players who are technically excellent. It is true that they are at the tail-end of their season and might be somewhat tired but they are capable of causing us problems and we need to be on our guard. I'm expecting another tough contest."