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Zico aims to crash Inter party

Fenerbahçe SK coach Zico is hoping to spoil Roberto Mancini's birthday on Tuesday with the win that would take the Turkish challengers through for the first time.

Fenerbahçe coach Zico
Fenerbahçe coach Zico ©Getty Images

Roberto Mancini says his FC Internazionale Milano side must keep close tabs on Fenerbahçe SK's Brazilian contingent if they are to get the win that will guarantee a place in the UEFA Champions League knockout rounds.

Inter suffered an opening-night shock when Deivid struck the only goal in Istanbul to inflict a Matchday 1 defeat on the Italian champions, and Mancini argues that if his team are to avoid similar disappointment on Tuesday, they will need to be wary of the threat posed by the visitors. "Fenerbahçe are a really well-drilled side," Mancini said. "They play with great rhythm and have many Brazilians who are extremely skilful and good at keeping the ball.

'Alex threat'
"Alex makes them tick and passes the ball around nicely, Roberto Carlos and Gökçek Vederson combine well down the left, and Deivid is an obvious threat after scoring against us last time. We need to be aware of these players and press them hard. We have to take the initiative and be physically strong against them. It's no fluke that they are second in the group. They are a good side. We want to win on Tuesday to wrap up qualification but it won't be easy."

Deivid return
Mancini's worries about Alex appear well-founded given that the South American returned from injury to score a hat-trick in Fenerbahçe's 4-2 win against Ankaraspor AS at the weekend. With Deivid and Lugano also back from suspension after sitting out the 2-0 home victory over PSV Eindhoven on Matchday 4, the Süper Lig team – who are just a point behind Group G leaders Inter – have cause to be confident of gaining the result that would seal a first qualification for the Round of 16.

'No mistakes'
"The main thing is not to make any mistakes or to leave space for Inter," said Fenerbahçe coach Zico. "If you give great players space, they punish you. However, we don't know how to play on the counterattack. We don't sit and watch – we are always looking to go forward and score. We've beaten them once and hopefully will do so again." The Brazilian tactician remains hopeful that Gökhan Gönül will recover from an ankle knock while midfielder Deniz Barış (back) will be replaced by Stephen Appiah, who has recently overcome a long-term knee problem. Mateja Kežman (knee) also misses out.

Exemplary form
For all his concerns, Mancini, 43 on Tuesday, will be anticipating a home win given his side's exemplary form. Inter top Group G after consecutive victories against PSV and PFC CSKA Moskva (twice) – the third success being a rousing comeback from two goals down. The Nerazzurri also lead Serie A by three points and kept their title defence on course on Saturday with a 2-1 triumph over Atalanta BC.

Party poopers
Mancini rested Zlatan Ibrahimović and Maxwell despite injuries to Patrick Vieira, Luís Figo, Hernán Crespo and Dejan Stanković. The Serbia midfielder is expected to be fit, however, and Crespo is likely to make the bench. "I wish Roberto well," concluded Zico. "But I'm hoping we poop his birthday party."