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Stanković firing on all cylinders for OM game

Dejan Stanković says FC Internazionale Milano will "play with big hearts and cool heads" as they bid to overturn a deficit against Olympique de Marseille and claim a quarter-final spot.

Dejan Stanković in training
Dejan Stanković in training ©Getty Images

Dejan Stanković promises that FC Internazionale Milano will be pulling out all the stops on Tuesday evening in what he describes as the "most crucial game of the season".

The Nerazzurri trail Olympique de Marseille 1-0 after the first leg of their UEFA Champions League round of 16 tie. Yet having claimed their first win in ten games on Friday, beating AC Chievo Verona 2-0, Stanković is hopeful that they have turned a corner. "That result brings renewed belief and motivation ahead of the second leg against OM," he said. "We are well aware of the value of tomorrow's game. We must stay focused and play with big hearts but cool heads. We'll do our best to make it happen."

Stanković, in particular, is champing at the bit, amid an injury-ravaged spell that has restricted him to 11 starts in all competitions this season. If he is in the starting XI on Tuesday it will be the first time since last April that he has featured in five successful games for the club. "I don't want to keep dwelling on my injuries," the 33-year-old replied to one reporter's query. "If I'm on the pitch again then I must seize the day. I'm not at 100% now, I'm at a 200%. I can't wait for the game."

André Ayew gave Marseille the advantage with the last kick of the game at the Stade Vélodrome three weeks ago, and Didier Deschamps' side will be boosted by the return of Loïc Rémy, absent from that first meeting, in Italy. Not that Stanković is concerned. "His presence changes nothing," he explained. "Maybe something is going to be different for them, but we are focusing on our own game. We must overturn the result, but without leaving them too much space, otherwise they will punish us on the counterattack.

"I hope our supporters inspire us to an important comeback," he added. "I want to thank them for their understanding during what has been a difficult spell these past few weeks, and their ongoing commitment to the team." Victory at the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza would be the perfect way to repay them.