After FC Internazionale Milano spent the weekend celebrating 100 years of history, coach Roberto Mancini wants to create some of his own against Liverpool FC.
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Having spent the weekend celebrating the club's centenary in the company of assorted Nerazzurri legends, FC Internazionale Milano coach Roberto Mancini has called on his players to draw inspiration from the achievements of the past – notably of the class of 1965 – for tonight's first knockout round second leg against Liverpool FC.
Saturday night witnessed a who's who of Inter greats as hundreds of former players and coaches lined up at San Siro to mark the team's 100th birthday. Everyone from Sandro Mazzola to Jürgen Klinsmann, Mario Corso to Lothar Matthäus, Jair to Andreas Brehme, attended the festivities which ended with a huge cake, in traditional black and blue stripes, being cut by president Massimo Moratti in Milan's Piazza del Duomo.
Now Mancini wants his own slice of history by repeating the feats of 1965. That side completed one of the most memorable European comebacks – overturning a 3-1 semi-final first-leg defeat at Anfield to win 3-0 at San Siro before going on to claim a second successive European Champion Clubs' Cup. Inter must rally in similar fashion following the late goals scored by Dirk Kuyt and Steven Gerrard on 19 February.
"People remember that match in 1965 because it was an extraordinary night and Inter turned around a deficit which seemed impossible," said Mancini. "I hope that, in 43 years' time, people will be talking about this match in the same way. Sometimes history repeats itself. I hope that we'll be remembered the same way but it won't be easy."
Inter's prospects are further complicated by injuries and suspensions. Although the Serie A leaders ended a four-game winless run with Saturday's 2-0 home success against Reggina Calcio – earned by strikes from Zlatan Ibrahimović and Nicolás Burdisso – their defence is missing Walter Samuel (knee), Iván Cordoba (knee), Maxwell (ankle) and Marco Materazzi (suspended). "The history of the UEFA Champions League is littered with memorable nights when teams have come back from seemingly impossible situations," added Mancini.
Liverpool know a thing or two about coming back from the brink, having scored three goals in seven minutes to claw their way to victory over Inter's city rivals AC Milan in the 2005 final. Manager Rafael Benítez says his team's European achievement makes him "proud" and agreed with Mancini's assertion that the visitors have not come to defend. "We are in good form at the moment, so the idea is to play our own game and try to score one goal."
Torres trump card
The Reds triumphed 3-0 against Newcastle United FC in the Premier League on Saturday with goals from Jermaine Pennant, Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard, but Daniel Agger (metatarsal) and Xavi Alonso (partner about to give birth) are out. At least Fernando Torres is available. "He is on fire," said Benítez of the striker who has registered seven goals since the first leg. "He is always trying to improve and hopefully he will score here."