FC Internazionale Milano coach José Mourinho was quick to put Sunday's derby loss to AC Milan behind him as he prepared his side to face high-scoring Werder Bremen in Group B. "I only ever look forward," he said.
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FC Internazionale Milano coach José Mourinho said Sunday's derby defeat by AC Milan had already been forgotten as he prepared his side to take on Werder Bremen in Group B of the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday.
Mourinho suffered his first reverse as Nerazzurri coach as Ronaldinho's first-half header decided the Derby della Madonnina in favour of the Rossoneri. A miserable night for Inter was compounded by the late dismissals of Nicolás Burdisso and Marco Materazzi, but Mourinho was loath to speak about the match, preferring to concentrate on a European campaign that has begun well. "I only ever look forward," he announced. "And this is the Champions League. We are top of our group and we are better placed than anyone else to kick on from here. None of the 32 teams has had a better start than us."
Bremen fire power
Bremen certainly did not. While Inter won 2-0 at Panathinaikos FC on Matchday 1 thanks to goals in each half from Mancini and Adriano, the Bundesliga side were drawing 0-0 at home to Anorthosis Famagusta FC. Nonetheless, it is Bremen's domestic form over the last fortnight which has truly caught the eye. Since the Anorthosis stalemate, Bremen have beaten FC Bayern München and TSG 1899 Hoffenheim 5-2 and 5-4 respectively – with Diego, Claudio Pizarro, Aaron Hunt and Mesut Özil, who scored twice, all on target against Hoffenheim on Saturday. With Bremen in such rude health, Inter will need to defend well against their German visitors.
"We know Bremen have scored ten goals in two matches but they didn't score any against Anorthosis – so which is the real Bremen?" pondered Mourinho. "I don't think it's the 0-0 version but neither is it the side that scores five. They score a lot because they have good attacking players and also because they play in a league where spectacular football is important and no one is pilloried for conceding. We must be careful, but we know their need to win is greater than ours. Nine points from our first three matches would be great but if we get seven we'll be virtually through."
Mourinho's natural confidence has been boosted by the recent return from injury of Iván Córdoba, Cristian Chivu and Patrick Vieira. Only Maxwell, Luís Figo and Luis Antonio Jiménez remain sidelined. Save for Daniel Jensen's achilles problem, meanwhile, Bremen are injury-free and their free-scoring showings have given coach Thomas Schaaf plenty of heart. "We must be true to ourselves," he said. "We must exploit our own strengths. Inter's attack is so strong that letting them come at us could be fatal. So maybe the best place to be is in their half where we can do some damage and watch out for the counterattack.
"[Zlatan] Ibrahimović represents an obvious threat to us," added Schaaf. "We've known about him for years, when he was at [AFC] Ajax and even before then when he played in Sweden. He is an exceptionally talented player we will have to keep an eye on, but we can't focus on him alone – there are plenty of other good Inter players to worry about."