FC Bayern München midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger told UEFA.com that eliminating FC Internazionale Milano would help ease the pain of losing last season's final.
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The memory of last season's UEFA Champions League final still eats away at Bastian Schweinsteiger, but the FC Bayern München midfielder is relishing the opportunity to gain some revenge over FC Internazionale Milano.
The side from Bavaria came within 90 minutes of clinching their fifth continental crown last May only to fall short against José Mourinho's well-drilled, ruthless Internazionale team in Madrid.
The 2-0 loss was a major anti-climax for Bayern after superb wins against Manchester United FC and Olympique Lyonnais, although the bitter disappointment has at least provided extra motivation for Schweinsteiger in the round of 16 tie between last year's finalists.
"When the draw took place and we heard we had to face Inter we were pleased because we knew it was a chance to get revenge for that final," the German international told UEFA.com. "In Madrid, they simply had better tactics than us. This time, though, it's different. They had to play at home first so they couldn't play defensively all the time. They had to come out and that gave us more space to exploit in attack."
Indeed, Bayern have already achieved something they failed to do at the Santiago Bernabéu: they have scored a goal. Mario Gomez's 90th-minute strike at the San Siro secured a richly-deserved victory for Louis van Gaal's men, ensuring they will be favourites to reach the quarter-finals on Tuesday.
Not that Schweinsteiger is getting carried away with the first-leg triumph. "Inter are the holders," the 26-year-old pointed out. "They won everything last year and they were the best team. So there is no danger of us underestimating them."
There is nevertheless a steely assurance in Schweinsteiger's eyes. The club stalwart knows that Europe represents Bayern's last realistic chance of silverware and he is desperate not to let the Serie A titleholders off the hook at the Fußball Arena München. "We're really looking forward to it," he enthused.
"The UEFA Champions League is our last opportunity of a trophy, so we need to give everything from the very first minute and make sure we go through. Over two legs, we can prove we're a good team," Schweinsteiger stressed. "We can show we're even better than Inter, even if they have good players like Wesley Sneijder and Samuel Eto'o."
Now in his ninth season with Bayern, Schweinsteiger has been involved in several fine UEFA Champions League campaigns but is yet to lift club football's most prestigious prize. Could this be the year? "Well, it depends on who you draw," the experienced playmaker explained.
"First I hope we get through against Inter. Then you need a bit of luck to reach the final. Last season, we were 3-0 down at Manchester United but turned things around, only losing 3-2 then winning the second leg. Everything has to fit well, but we have the quality to go a long way."
One man who knows exactly what it takes to go all the way is Van Gaal. The wily Dutchman, who masterminded AFC Ajax's 1995 success, has had mixed fortunes during his time in Germany and recently confirmed he will stand down at the end of term.
Yet Schweinsteiger sees Van Gaal's presence as a major plus, saying: "He has extensive experience having coached many great teams. He has brought his philosophy to Bayern and that's important. Van Gaal likes his teams to show discipline, keep possession, but also to play attacking football. We gain a lot of supporters because of the way we play."