Inter again looking for European release
Inter Milan host CSKA Moscow in Champions League Group B on Wednesday in a vital game for both sides, but for very different reasons.
For CSKA it is very simple, they need to win to stand any chance of qualifying for the Champions League knock-out stages and hope that Lille and Trabzonspor draw in France.
Inter have already won the group and can look forward to a two-legged last 16 clash against a group runner-up in February and March.
But the Italian giants cannot afford to take this game lightly.
Despite winning the group with a game to spare, they are desperately short on form and confidence as their domestic woes continued at the weekend with a 1-0 defeat at home to highflying Udinese.
While their Champions League form has been good, or at least good enough to win a group that could have been trickier, they have been hapless at home.
Just four wins from 12 league games sees Inter stuck down in 16th place in Serie A and currently involved in a relegation dog-fight.
No-one is saying so much openly at Inter's Appiano Gentile base in Milan but not only are their title hopes over but so too may be their chances of securing a top three finish and playing in this competition next season.
In fact coach Claudio Ranieri refuses to talk about Inter's objectives as he has suffered too many disappointments during his short tenure.
"Obviously this isn't one of our happiest seasons, we certainly have a lot more work to do but we need to keep faith in what we're doing," he said.
"(The Udinese) match was supposed to be the start of a comeback, it was supposed to give us new self-confidence but instead we still have to roll up our sleeves.
"The way things stand we have to keep quite, work hard and let the others get on with their seasons while we concentrate on our own.
"I'm still confident, of course we'll try to retain our objectives and we hope to get back some important players (such as Diego Forlan) who can give us a helping hand.
"That's my primary objective."
Ranieri, however, may be tempted to rest players for the game as they have league matches against Fiorentina and Genoa within six days of the Moscow clash.
CSKA for their part are attempting to get past the group stages for only the second time -- the first being in 2009/10 when they were knocked out in the quarter-finals by Inter.
However, if they fail to win, or if Trabzonspor win at Lille, then a draw would be enough to put them into the Europa League, unless the other match ends in a draw.
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