Champions League Preview: Bayern Munich v Inter Milan
“I’ve watched our last few matches and Bayern’s at least three times – you’ve got to study every detail. But every match has its own story, one that depends above all on a team’s form. You have to hit the best form at the right time.” These were Leonardo’s opening words at the press conference on the eve of Bayern Munich v Inter.
“The players are really up for this one,” he went on, “they’re looking forward to the night. It’s always a privilege to play in matches like this, which are like finals, but it’s even better to win them. This is the atmosphere the lads are living through, they know the historical importance of these games.”
“The first leg could have produced a different result, so it would be no surprise if Inter won this one. Tomorrow night we’ll be starting on level terms and I’m optimistic because I know the strength and spirit of this group.”
Leonardo is asked whether he thinks it would be best to plan to hit them on the break. “It’s not a question of best or worst, you should always take the match as it comes, so there’s no set scheme. Bayern have played their last matches with a virtually unchanged team and the same system of play, but we’re a well-drilled outfit too, so we’re optimistic.”
During an interview outside his offices on the eve of this crucial match, Inter president Massimo Moratti answered questions from the press on Inter’s chances against Bayern and his reaction to last weekends league games, here’s what he had to say –
How much do you believe in Inter overturning the deficit against Bayern?
“We believe we can do it, absolutely. Also because we did well in the game in Milan. We made a mistake only in the last minute, but otherwise we were set out well and so I hope we can do the same there – but with the result going our way this time.”
Even if we get the one away goal we can force extra time and give ourselves another 30 minutes to secure the victory, though like everyone else i’m hoping for a straight win in normal time!
What did you tell the players in Appiano Gentile to get them even more motivated?
“There is a much more direct and less official form of dialogue compared to in a conference. I think they understand, they are all mature and with the necessary personal experience to understand what is required.”
Does the draw between AC Milan and Bari give you a further boost for this game too?
“In terms of morale it is better to go there five points behind instead of seven, as it gives us the feeling we are still involved in the title race. What is negative is Friday’s result, slightly diluted by what happened yesterday.”
We were definitely lucky with AC’s result this weekend but we can’t rely on luck to bail us out they need to learn from their mistakes and do what’s necessary to ensure they don’t happen again.
Do you think there might be some strain in the Rossoneri camp? Are they feeling the pressure of having Inter on their heels?
“No, Ibrahimovic’s frustration has nothing to do with that. His was just a reaction, nothing more.”
But it would be strange if Ibrahimovic got to play in the derby, particularly considering what happened to Eto’o and Chivu in similar circumstances…
“You are trying to get me into things that I have no intention of discussing. It will work itself out.”
I’ve just watched the incident they are talking about with Ibra and he should be looking at a 3 match ban the same as Eto’o & Chivu got for their conduct, and if that works to our advantage in the title race then that’s even better, though the likes of Juve & AC Milan always seem to get away with things Inter never could! Maybe that’s because we play fair unlike some, and on that controversial point i’ll get back to the Champions league preview.
Tomorrow is the big night and, judging by his words and his face, Wesley Sneijder can’t wait. It’s the return leg of the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 and the Dutchman was the player chosen by Leonardo to accompany him in the pre-match press conference. Sneijder speaks in English so that he can express the concepts better, and he makes it clear that he and Inter are up for it: “To win we have to score but it’s a 180-minute tie; we lost the first 90 minutes but we’re capable of winning tomorrow evening. This match represents the cream of the Champions League, one of those games that gets the hairs on the back of your neck up. We’re all focused and convinced we can do it.”
Sneijder didn’t want to comment on Van Gaal’s announced June departure from Bayern Munich (“I’m concentrating on Inter”) but he says he is happy to meet up with friends and Netherlands team-mates. And no one is looking back towards Italy: “At the moment we’re focused on Bayern Munich. We think we can overturn the first-leg result and qualify. Only then will we start thinking about the league and AC Milan.”
Interviewed shortly afterwards on the Allianz Arena pitch by Sky Sport Italia’s Massimiliano Nebuloni, Sneijder admitted that he has never played there before, but underlined that “We are a team and we always play as a team. We don’t depend on anyone in particular. We’re confident because we played well in the first leg. It will be difficult but we’re confident. We’ve got to score. They are ahead but you can’t talk about chances of qualifying in terms of percentages. We just have to score and win. And we believe we will.”
So we’re all set for the match tomorrow, and Inter are showing the absolute commitment and belief that they need to beat Bayern and proceed onto the quarter finals.