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Inter Milan coach wary of Ajax
March 13, 2006 10:33 IST
Inter Milan coach Roberto Mancini has warned his players against relying on defence when they play Ajax Amsterdam for a place in the Champions League quarter-finals on Tuesday (kickoff 1945 GMT).
Having pocketed two away goals in the draw in Amsterdam a fortnight ago, Inter could be tempted to grind out a 0-0 or 1-1 draw that would send them through to a meeting with Villarreal.
Mancini believes that would be a dangerous tactic.
"Many people are already saying we are through, but in fact we only have a slight advantage," he was quoted as saying in La Gazzetta dello Sport on Sunday.
"We can't afford to think about a draw. That would be far too risky. This is a game we have to try to win."
Their chances have been boosted by the return to form of striker Adriano who ended his 10-game goal drought by scoring the winner in a 1-0 victory over Sampdoria on Saturday.
"He's rediscovered his place, he's fit, and if he keeps on playing this that he'll be a handful for any opponent," said Mancini.
The Brazilian international was substituted in the second half in Amsterdam.
Ajax coach Danny Blind has cautioned his team against giving Inter the kind of space that allowed them to come back from a 2-0 halftime deficit in the first leg.
The Dutch side, whose run of five consecutive wins in the first division ended in a 0-0 draw with leaders PSV Eindhoven on Saturday, have never won a game in the north Italian city.
"Italian teams always give you the idea you can play your own game but also prescribe how far you can go," Blind told a news conference on Sunday.
"We will have some chances in Milan but have to be aware that we must keep our (defensive) lines close to each other. That was what went wrong in the second half at home."
Besides the long-term injured Wesley Sneijder, Tomas Galasek and Zdenek Grygera, Ajax will miss defender John Heitinga who sustained a bruised kidney in the first leg.
Midfielder Hedwiges Maduro will take Heitinga's place in defence while Steven Pienaar made his comeback after months of absence during the draw with PSV on Saturday.
Inter Milan: 1-Francesco Toldo; 4-Javier Zanetti, 2-Ivan Cordoba, 25-Walter Samuel, 33-Pierre Wome; 7-Luis Figo, 19-Esteban Cambiasso, 14-Juan Sebastian Veron, 5-Dejan Stankovic; 10-Adriano, 20-Alvaro Recoba.
Ajax: 1-Maarten Stekelenburg; 2-Hatem Trabelsi, 8-Hedwiges Maduro, 15-Thomas Vermaelen, 22-Juanfran; 10-Steven Pienaar, 21-Olaf Lindenbergh, 19-Urby Emanuelson; 7-Mauro Rosales, 25-Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, 24-Markus Rosenberg
Referee: Peter Frojdfeldt (Sweden)
(Additional reporting by Theo Ruizenaa
UEFA Champions League 2005-06: The Complete Coverage