Inter’s Inzaghi hoping to turn tide against Italy’s bogey team Porto
Simone Inzaghi said on Tuesday he wants Inter Milan to end Italian teams’ dreadful record against Porto as he prepares to host the Portuguese outfit in the first leg of their Champions League last 16 tie.
Inter are aiming to reach the quarter-finals of the Champions League for the first time since 2011 but will have to beat a bogey team for Serie A clubs guided by Inzaghi’s former Lazio teammate Sergio Conceicao.
Porto have knocked out six Italian clubs in European competition over the last two decades, most recently finishing a point above AC Milan in the Champions League group stage last season and taking the Europa League spot.
Inzaghi and Conceicao won the league and cup double in 2000 with Lazio, as well as the 1999 European Super Cup, and since retiring as players both are enjoying successful managerial careers.
“He’s (Conceicao) doing really well right now, his team plays a physical and technical game,” Inzaghi told reporters.
“Porto are a really good team, they’ve won 10 games in a row, conceding only two goals.
“In recent years they have done really well against Italian teams, against Milan last season, Roma, Lazio and Juventus. Let’s hope we can turn the tide.”
Inter are in the knockout stages after qualifying from a group which contained the current leaders of La Liga and the Bundesliga.
They took four points from Barcelona to make it through in second place behind Bayern Munich who won all of their Group C matches.
“We are coming into this game with a lot of belief because we got here in an incredible way; on paper Barcelona and Bayern Munich were the teams everyone wanted to avoid,” said Inzaghi.
“You can see what Barca are doing now against Real Madrid who have just been crowned world champions and we know what Bayern are about. Now we’re here, we wanted it so badly and we’re going to give it a go.”
– Friends reunited –
Conceicao does not want Wednesday’s match featuring such storied teams to be reduced to a battle between him and Inzaghi.
“Inter and Porto are two big clubs with loads of history,” he said.
“It’s great to see Simone again, we were together in Rome where we won big trophies for Lazio, but now we’re on different paths, we’re doing a different job which is more demanding but just as fascinating.
“It’s going to be a difficult game against a team that has lost once in three months.”
Porto are in good form, winning the Portuguese League Cup and cutting Benfica’s league lead in to five points, but are missing a host of players to injury ahead of their trip to the San Siro.
“As our coach says we are always strongest as a team even without some very important players we need to keep playing our style, high intensity with confidence of having the ball,” said Serbia midfielder Marko Grujic.
“We don’t know who will be ready and who will not but we have to be ready.”