Tuesday, November 27, 2007

UEFA MatchDay: Fenerbahce vs. Inter Milan

UEFA MatchDay: Fenerbahce vs. Inter Milan
By Nathan L. Redd

Fenerbahce's historic UEFA Champions League campaign can take a monumental step on Tuesday. The club is looking to advance into the knockout stage for the first time in club history, and Fener is confident heading into the match.

Although both teams are in excellent shape to qualify, Inter Milan knows all too well how strong Fenerbahce are. The Sari Lacivert defeated Inter 1-0 in Kadikoy, a scoreline that didn't reflect the actual domination by Fenerbahce. With the return in Milano, Inter are cautious of the Turk giants.

Inter defender Ivan Cordoba missed the first match, but he's been keeping tabs on their opponents since. "It's a match where we will have to conduct the rhythm. Fenerbahce play with great tempo, largely based on the playmaking skills of Alex de Souza, which means we have to take the game to them rather than the other way around" he told reporters earlier in the week.

Cordoba is expecting a different look than Inter's Serie A opponents usually give them. "In the Champions League, teams tend to attack more than in Serie A," he said. "CSKA Moskva gave it a real go, scored two early goals and had nothing to lose. It means you can't afford to make mistakes in the Champions League because if you do, before you know it, you're out. We're very determined. A win will draw a line under qualifying and that is a huge motivation for us."

Fenerbahce are anticipating a different style also. Turkcell Super Lig teams tend to lock down on Fenerbahce and play in a tight, defensive mode. Zico's squad are expecting a more fluid, freestyle type of game on Tuesday from Roberto Mancini's side. "Fenerbahce are a really well-drilled side," Mancini said. "They play with great rhythm and have many Brasilians who are extremely skilful and good at keeping the ball. Alex de Souza makes them tick and passes the ball around nicely; Roberto Carlos and Gokcek Wederson combine well down the left, and Deivid de Souza is an obvious threat after scoring against us last time. We need to be aware of these players and press them hard. We have to take the initiative and be physically strong against them. It's no fluke that they are second in the group - they are a good side. We want to win on Tuesday to wrap up qualification but it won't be easy."

On the other side, Zico knows that Fenerbahce have little room for error against their Milano counterparts. "The main thing is not to make any mistakes or to leave space for Inter. If you give great players space, they punish you. However, we don't know how to play on the counterattack. We don't sit and watch – we are always looking to go forward and score. We've beaten them once and hopefully will do so again."

The first leg's hero, Deivid de Souza, is back in the lineup after missing the last match, a 2-0 defeat of PSV Eindhoven. Uruguayan defender Diego Lugano is also back after missing that same match. Mateja Kezman is out for Fenerbahce as he is still recovering from knee surgery. Deniz Baris will miss the match with a back injury. He'll be replaced in the lineup by Stephen Appiah, who is still recovering from injury himself. Zico was unsure of the status of recently-capped defender Gokhan Gonul, who suffered a minor ankle injury last week. For Inter, Zlatan Ibrahimovic is expected to be back in the lineup. Patrick Viera, Luis Figo, Hernan Crespo, and Dejan Stankovic have all suffered from injuries recently as well.

Inter Milan will be looking to reach the knockout phase for the fourth time in five years. Fenerbahce is looking for their first trip to the round of sixteen. Fenerbahce holds a four-point lead over PSV Eindhoven, and Fener still have a remaining home game against CSKA Moscow in Kadikoy. CSKA Moscow has already been eliminated from the competition. If CSKA Moscow defeats PSV Eindhoven today, both Fenerbahce and Inter Milan will advance regardless of their scoreline.

Fenerbahce and Inter Milan kickoff at 20:45 local time from Milano, Italia (21:45 in Turkiye; 2:45 PM EST in the U.S.). The game is available on a pay-per-view basis from UEFA.com. The anticipated lineups are:

Inter Milan:



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3:57 PM  

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