Site Network: Cycling | Golf | Tennis | NHL | NBA | NFL | MLB | Futsal | Handball | Boxing | Rugby | Snooker | Cricket |

Having pulled off an impressive comeback against Bayern Munich in the Champions League, Inter Milan will now try to make up its five-point gap behind city rival AC Milan in Serie A.

Inter hosts a Lecce team on the edge of the relegation zone this weekend, while Milan visits struggling Palermo without suspended striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

On Wednesday, Inter trailed Bayern 3-1 on aggregate before Wesley Sneijder and Goran Pandev scored to put the defending champion through on away goals.

“Now we’re going to focus on another (comeback). At five points down, anything can happen,” Sneijder said. “It seemed impossible just three months ago, but we’re still alive in three competitions and we’re going to battle down to the very end.”

As Sneijder noted, it was just a few months ago when Inter was struggling on all fronts under Rafa Benitez. But since Leonardo was hired to replace the Spaniard during Serie A’s winter break, Inter has won 14 of 18 matches in all competitions.

Inter had trailed Milan by 13 points before Leonardo took over.

“This squad had some problems but it’s in form now,” said Leonardo. “This match (against Bayern) will go down in history and that’s the spirit we’re carrying over to the league.”

The performance of goalkeeper Julio Cesar against Bayern encapsulates Inter’s comeback mentality.

An elementary error by Julio Cesar led to Mario Gomez’s winner in the opening leg, and the Brazil ‘keeper made another mistake that enabled Gomez to equalize in the second leg. But he then made several key saves in the second half to set up Inter’s dramatic win, sealed by Pandev’s 88th-minute winner.

“We won this match with our hearts,” Leonardo said. “(Julio Cesar) cried at the end. He’s very emotional and clearly he was crying out of joy. You can’t explain this match, you can only thank god for having lived through it.”

Of the seven Italian clubs entered in Europe this season, Inter is the only team that hasn’t been eliminated.

“We’re holding up the pride of Italian football,” Sneijder said.

Milan was knocked out by Tottenham last week after failing to score a goal over both legs. A large portion of the blame for the elimination was directed at Ibrahimovic’s inability to find the target, and the Sweden international let out his frustration last weekend when he punched Bari defender Marco Rossi in the stomach, receiving a three-game ban.

“Ibrahimovic is key for us, it’s a big loss but we have (other) champions that can play well,” said Milan striker Alexandre Pato, adding that he’s looking forward to playing alongside Antonio Cassano, Ibrahimovic’s likely replacement.

“I’ve wanted to play with (Cassano) for a while and now I’ll get the chance,” Pato said.

After a break for national-team fixtures, Inter and Milan meet in a derby on April 2.

Also this weekend, surging Udinese hosts Catania and Roma visits Fiorentina hoping to maintain its momentum after a derby win over Lazio.

Struggling Juventus, which is winless in its last four games, hosts Brescia; and Napoli will attempt to improve its grip on third place against Cagliari.

Also, it’s: Lazio vs. Cesena; Bari vs. Chievo Verona; Bologna vs. Genoa; Sampdoria vs. Parma.

0 comentarios:

Publicar un comentario en la entrada