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Mourinho expects Inter show of strength

Having endured a 14-hour coach trip, FC Barcelona face another test of stamina against an FC Internazionale Milano side deemed "much stronger" than earlier this term by José Mourinho.

Mourinho expects Inter show of strength
Mourinho expects Inter show of strength ©UEFA.com

FC Internazionale Milano coach José Mourinho believes his side are "much stronger" now than when they faced FC Barcelona in the group stage as the two teams prepare to meet again in the UEFA Champions League semi-finals. While Mourinho was happy for Barcelona to be considered favourites ahead of Tuesday's first leg at San Siro, his opposite number Josep Guardiola was concerned too much expectation was being placed on the holders, particularly after a gruelling 14-hour bus drive to Milan.

José Mourinho, Inter coach
Barça deserved to win in November. They are as strong now as they were then, but we are much stronger. I don't mind if the football world considers them favourites, I think we have a 50% chance of playing in the final. What I do not like is to talk about this game as if it were a final; the real final will be played in Madrid. Lyon and Bayern have the same chances of winning the trophy as Barcelona and Inter have.

Everybody talks about Messi, but football is not an individual sport, though of course he is a player who deserves special attention. I worked with Puyol ten years ago, but he seems to be the same player. He looks like a 21-year-old, not a 30-year-old. Success has not changed him and that's the best thing for a player.

Josep Guardiola, Barcelona coach
It's not just us playing; Inter are as well. They have been Italian champions for four years in a row. It is not the ideal situation for us to travel 14 hours by coach after a league game and before a semi-final against Inter, but you cannot stop a volcano, can you? We decided to use two buses to have more space and I didn't travel with the players because I think it's better for them not to always have their coach with them. Luckily Inter eliminated CSKA so we haven't had to go to Moscow by bus!

I don't want to think about the league; we are in a Champions League semi-final for the third time in a row and I want to savour it. [Saturday's 0-0 draw at] Espanyol is history. Inter can play in a variety of ways. They have versatile players who do whatever their coach asks. I have no idea which Inter to expect. We want to be ourselves – we have to.

Team news
Davide Santon (knee), Francesco Toldo (leg)
Doubtful: none
Misses next match if booked: Walter Samuel, Maicon, Javier Zanetti, Dejan Stanković

• Santon is out until the end of the month after knee surgery.

Andrés Iniesta(right thigh)
Doubtful: none
Suspended: none
Misses next match if booked:
Carles Puyol

Weekend results
16/04/10 Inter 2-0 Juventus
(Maicon 75, Eto'o 90+2)

• Juve were reduced to ten men in the first half, but it took until the last 15 minutes for Inter to secure victory in Mourinho's 100th game in charge and Zanetti's 500th Serie A appearance for the club.

• AS Roma beat S.S. Lazio 2-1 on Sunday to regain top spot in Serie A and leave Inter a point adrift with four games remaining.

17/04/10 RCD Espanyol 0-0 Barcelona

• Barcelona's Liga lead over Real Madrid CF was reduced to one point after they had Daniel Alves sent off in a draw at the home of their city neighbours.

• It was only the second time that Barcelona failed to score in the league this season.

• In Inter's first semi-final since 2002/03, they meet familiar opponents from the group stage. The two sides drew 0-0 at San Siro on 16 September and Barcelona won 2-0 at home on 24 November, Gerard Piqué and Pedro Rodríguez getting the goals.

• These teams' other San Siro meeting, in the 2002/03 second group stage, also ended goalless. Zanetti, Puyol and Xavi Hernández all played in that game.

• Inter are yet to score against Barcelona in four competitive matches.

Team Ties
• Mourinho served as an assistant to the late Sir Bobby Robson and Louis van Gaal at Barcelona from 1996 to 2000.

• Inter forward Diego Milito, 30, could line up against his 29-year-old brother Gabriel of Barcelona. The Argentinian international siblings played together for two seasons with Real Zaragoza between 2005 and 2007.

Did you know?
• Inter are unbeaten at San Siro in this season's competition and have never lost in seven European Champion Clubs' Cup semi-final home legs.

Read more on the match in the official UEFA Champions League press kit.

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