Inter coach refuses to take Schalke lightly

Inter Milan coach Leonardo dismissed Schalke 04's poor league form and insisted they will be dangerous Champions League opponents on Tuesday.

Updated: April 05, 2011 16:41 IST
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Milan: Inter Milan coach Leonardo dismissed Schalke 04's poor league form and insisted they will be dangerous Champions League opponents on Tuesday.

Inter host the Germans in the quarterfinal, first leg at the San Siro here looking to bounce back from their derby defeat to AC Milan on Saturday.

And while Inter's league position is still relatively healthy - they sit third, five points behind leaders Milan with seven games left - Schalke sit 11th in the Bundesliga with no hope of qualifying for Europe next season, let alone the Champions League.

"Schalke are in the quarterfinals and even if they're not doing great in the league, we all know they will have bundles of enthusiasm and it won't be easy playing them," said Leonardo, who insisted his side are over their derby disappointment.

"A defeat is never due to one sole reason just as I don't think we conceded a goal after 47 seconds due to a tactical problem."

"I respect everyone's analyses but there are many factors, for example in the first half we had three chances and they had two but we didn't score."

"I don't think it's anything to do with attitude or psychology."

"We're bitter because we lost but this team has always bounced back from set-backs and I'm convinced we'll do it again this time."

One slightly worrying element is Leonardo's own personal record in the biggest clashes.

He is in only his second season as a coach having guided Milan last season and he only took over Inter midway through this campaign.

But in three Milan derbies he's ended on the losing side three times, scoring no goals and conceding nine.

And he has never won a Champions League game at home in five attempts (four with Milan and one with Inter).

But the Brazilian is not worried.

"Every game is different, these statistics don't count much. I'm not concerned with these types of analyses, they have no bearing on the game," he said.

Inter will welcome back centre-back Lucio from his domestic suspension for the game against Schalke however they will be without cup-tied striker Giampaolo Pazzini.

However, Diego Milito has now made a couple of substitute appearances since his return from injury as is all set to take a starring role in the season run-in.

"Milito underwent a long period of rehabilitation and then had to undergo another physical preparation as if it was pre-season but now I believe he is in good shape and ready to play at a high level," said Leonardo.

The Argentine forward was the hero last season scoring both goals in the Champions League final, the winner in the Cup final and also the decisive goal to win the league.

But this season has been very different as he's struggled for form and fitness but now he believes he just needs to get some games under his belt.

"I feel good both in my head and physically. I'm in good shape although I'm lacking a bit of match-sharpness," he said.

"But I've got a lot of desire and I'm delighted to be back."

"It's been a difficult year for me with many injuries but there are still two months left in the season and I hope to transform my anger into positive energy."

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  • Inter Milan
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