18 February 2008

Liverpool vs Inter Milan: Preview

LONDON, Feb 18 (Reuters) - Liverpool face a daunting challenge from runaway Serie A leaders Inter Milan in the Champions League at home on Tuesday only three days after their FA Cup humiliation by Barnsley.
Having gone down 2-1 at Anfield against the Championship (second division) side on Saturday, five-times European Cup winners Liverpool must call on their vast experience if they are to win the opening leg of the first knockout round tie.
Stephen Gerrard, who has four goals in the competition, leads a Liverpool side now out of the FA Cup they last won in 2006 and whose interest in the Premier League is virtually over barring the fourth Champions League berth for next season.
With all their eggs now in one basket, defender Jamie Carragher, set to make his 99th European appearance for Liverpool, said: 'We will have to play a lot better than we have been and be at our very best to get through.
'They look like running away with their title and are keen to win this trophy after watching AC Milan do that against us last season,' he told the club's website.
'It will be a big test for us and we will have to up our game a level or two to get through. Making a good start in the tie at home, though, is crucial.'
Italian champions Inter have lost only one match this season, a 1-0 defeat by Fenerbahce in Turkey in September in their first group game, and are 11 points clear in Serie A after a 2-0 win over Livorno on Saturday.
Coach Roberto Mancini rested his favoured strike partnership of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, joint top scorer in the Champions League with five goals to go with his 14 in Serie A, and Julio Cruz.
Cruz said it would be a mistake to focus on the second leg being at San Siro.
'We mustn't think that this might be an advantage. We have to try and do things well without thinking about the return leg at home, and try to kill off the match before the game in Milan,' he told Sky Italia.
Luis Figo came on as a substitute against Livorno for his first appearance since breaking his leg in November, a piece of good news amid their injury problems in midfield where Patrick Vieira and Chilean playmaker Luis Jimenez are doubtful.
Remarkably, the clubs have met only once before in the European Cup when Inter prevailed 4-3 on aggregate in 1965 on the way to winning the trophy for the second season in a row.

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