Inter Milan V Barcelona

By NBF NEWS
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Champions League semi-final first leg
Venue: San Siro Date: Tuesday 20 April Kick-off: Time 1945 BST

Coverage: Live text commentary on BBC Sport website, coverage on BBC Radio 5 live. Live on Sky Sports 2

Messi (left) was in majestic form against Arsenal in the quarter-final second leg

Inter Milan could move full-back Maicon into midfield for Tuesday's Champions League semi-final first leg.

Manager Jose Mourinho is keen to add to his midfield in a bid to combat Lionel Messi's influence, but left-back Davide Santon is out after minor knee surgery.

Barcelona, who have been forced to travel to Italy by coach because of the volcanic ash cloud saga, have full-back Eric Abidal back after a thigh injury.

Messi will play despite sitting out training, but Andres Iniesta is out.

The Spanish side's quest to become the first team to defend the European crown since AC Milan in 1990 has not been helped by the travel chaos across large parts of Europe, and the 450-mile journey to northern Italy will be made over two days.

“We know Inter will make it tough for us,” said Barcelona midfielder Sergio Busquets.

“We have been having a lot of big games and it's not the ideal way to travel to Milan, but there can be no excuses.

“Maybe spending so long together on a coach will bring us closer and help us focus on beating Inter.

“It's a long time on the road and we're not really used to that but with music and a film or two, I'm sure the trip won't seem so long.

“We have to get a good result that will allow us to go into the second leg with confidence.”

Meanwhile, Inter striker Samuel Eto'o, who scored the winner against Chelsea in the first knockout round, is well aware of the threat posed by the team he was with for five seasons. 606: DEBATE

Barca are clearly the favourites… however at this moment Inter are probably the only team in Europe who have the manager and players to subdue Barca's relentless attacking

Avellino
“We have to prepare in a calm manner. We have to try to anticipate what the game will be like and feel it inside our heads,” said the 29-year-old Cameroon international striker, who scored for Barca in the 2006 and 2009 Champions League finals.

“Matches like this one are played more with the head than the feet.”

Inter skipper Javier Zanetti dismissed speculation that some of his squad were suffering from fatigue as the season draws towards its climax.

The 36-year-old has played 47 matches so far this term but insisted: “At the moment I don't feel tired. I still feel good and I want to play my part for the team.

“We are fine. We are playing a lot of games at the moment and each one of them needs our full potential and we can't relax on any front. When we do start to feel tired we need to be smart about it and then we can get over it.”

The teams have already met in the group stages of the competition this season, with a 0-0 stalemate at the San Siro followed by a 2-0 victory for Barca at the Nou Camp, courtesy of goals from Pedro and Gerard Pique.

“Inter know us better and they will be better prepared for our tactics,” added Busquets.

“Their confidence is high after getting through against teams like Chelsea and the fact that there is a chance of making the final will mean they come out really fired up.”

It won't be one against Messi and 10 against 10, it will be 11 against 11

Jose Mourinho
Mourinho expects his side to have a lot of closing down to do against Barcelona's star-studded attacking players and said: “I'm not interested in the possession of the ball. If the team that has the most possession wins, then we've already lost.

“For the first 10 minutes and the last 10 in the game in September in Milan, they were better but for the rest it was even.

“In the game in Barcelona in the group they showed great superiority, winning easily and deservedly.

“But a lot of time has passed since then. They're as good as they were in November but we're much better now.

“Therefore I believe it's a 50-50 game. Tactically we're more compact, the mentality in the Champions League is very different, the psychological situation is totally different.”

The former Chelsea boss insists there are no plans to mark Messi out of the game and said: “He's a great player who requires a lot of attention but it's not in my culture to man-mark.

“It won't be one against Messi and 10 against 10, it will be 11 against 11.”

Mourinho also denied suggestions that Inter against Barca should have been the final. “An early final does not exist. It's a semi-final and only the winners will go through to the real final, the one in Madrid,” he said.

“And hence that won't be Inter-Barcelona. Lyon and Bayern deserve all the respect because they've reached the same stage as us.

“They also have a 25% chance of winning, they have their history and they've knocked out great teams, like Real Madrid and Bayern have one of the best coaches in the world (Dutchman Louis van Gaal).

The second-leg will take place at the Nou Camp on 28 April.