FC Internazionale Milano believe that Adriano's return from injury could prove vital as they take on AC Milan.
By Ivan Carvalho in Milan
FC Internazionale Milano believe they can turn round a 2-0 deficit against city rivals AC Milan as they welcome back Adriano for the second leg of their UEFA Champions League quarter-final.
Adriano has been out with a knee injury sustained against ACF Fiorentina last month, but the 23-year-old Brazil striker is fit to play some part as he seeks to add to his seven Champions League goals this season, including the hat-trick that ousted holders FC Porto in the Round of 16.
Inter coach Roberto Mancini said: "Clearly he isn't 100 per cent fit. But all he needs is three shots on goal to score three goals. He's an indispensable player for a match like this."
The addition of Adriano's firepower was also welcomed by captain Javier Zanetti, with the Nerazzurri still to score against their neighbours in three meetings this term. "It's important to have him back," said Zanetti. "A player with his qualities can be decisive on the pitch and create difficulties for any defence."
Mancini is taking hope from the second leg of Milan's quarter-final with RC Deportivo La Coruña last year, where the then holders began 4-1 up yet succumbed 5-4 on aggregate. "An early goal changed the game," said Mancini. "
If we can keep them out in the early exchanges, and get a goal ourselves, it could spur us on to achieve something extraordinary."
Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti, however, insisted that lightning would not strike twice. He said: "This situation is different from that at La Coruna, since we won't feel like we are playing away from home. San Siro is our stadium."
Paolo Maldini, who is expected to revert to his former position of left-back to allow first-leg goalscorer Jaap Stam another start alongside Alessandro Nesta, even believes that Milan may take strength from the circumstances of their exit last season. "Mistakes teach important lessons," the captain said. "You can make mistakes in your life, but it is not certain that these things repeat themselves."
Talk of Adriano did not seem to unsettle Ancelotti, whose side have the best defence in the Champions League having registered seven clean sheets and conceded just three goals in nine games. Indeed, goalkeeper Dida is aiming to equal a competition record of six straight shutouts, set in 1995/96 by both Edwin van der Sar of AFC Ajax and Panathinaikos FC's Józef Wandzik, with his Brazilian compatriot being the biggest threat to that bid.
If Adriano plays, we will have to watch him," said Ancelotti. "However, we have to pay attention to all their strikers, they can cause us trouble as well. Every game can have hidden dangers."
A veteran of two decades of derbies and a member of Milan's much-praised defensive unit, Maldini also sought to downplay the presence of Adriano. "I don't know who will play for Inter," the 36-year-old said. "It is their problem, but if Adriano misses out, there would be either [Julio] Cruz, [Christian] Vieri or [Obafemi] Martins."
Away goals equation
Leading 2-0 and as 'visitors' for the second leg, Milan will leave their opponents needing to score four times by striking just once, having already won the clubs' previous Champions League showdown in the 2002/03 semi-finals on away goals.