| Arsene Wenger’s men have little choice
Milan: Inter Milan coach Alberto Zaccheroni believes the prospect of a place in the last 16 is all the motivation his team needs for Wednesday’s vital Group B clash here against Lokomotiv Moscow.
And at Highbury, Premiership pace-setters Arsenal will see their dream suffer another early knockout blow if they lose to Dynamo Kiev.
Inter, who crashed to a 0-3 defeat in the away leg a fortnight back, can kick-start their faltering season by beating the Russian champions and edging closer to the knock-out phase of the competition. “We’ll do everything we can to win. If we do it means we’ll be very close to qualifying for the last 16.
“It’s going to be tough as Lokomotiv are a team in form. They’re a dynamic group that cover well in midfield, leave few spaces open at the back and use just one striker.”
Zaccheroni, who took over as coach following the sacking of Hector Cuper last month, enjoyed his first success on Sunday, a 2-0 victory at Chievo which ended a run of four games without a win.
Inter president Massimo Moratti said he hoped the much-needed three points that lifted them up to sixth in Serie A would boost the team’s often fragile confidence.
Despite losing in the Russian capital a fortnight ago, Inter are level on six points with Ukrainian champions Dynamo Kiev who top the group by virtue of a slightly better goal difference.
Inter, losing semi-finalists last season, can also take heart from the fact that Lokomotiv have not scored an away goal in Europe since their 2-2 at Real Madrid in December last year.
Uruguayan international Recoba should keep his place in Inter’s attack alongside Vieri, while Dutch winger Andy van der Meyde is expected to be recalled in place of Argentine Mattias Almeyda.
French midfielder Jeremie Brechet is favourite to fill in for Francesco Coco on the left wing as the former Barcelona player is short of match fitness.
The last Russian side to win in Italy was Dynamo Moscow who defeated Torino 2-1 back in December 1992.
And, without a European win in eight outings, Arsene Wenger’s men must beat the Ukrainians if they are to stay in the race to qualify for the knockout stages. However, they are rooted to the foot of Group B with just one point from three games following their 2-1 defeat in Kiev two weeks ago in a game marred by goalkeeper Jens Lehmann’s mistake.
Dennis Bergkamp is urging his teammates to reproduce their stunning Premiership form in Europe if the club is to survive.
The Gunners have dropped just six of a possible 33 points to top the table, and have yet to lose in the league.
However, in the Champions League, they have not won in their last eight matches and this season they have already lost two and drawn one, scoring just once.
“You can’t keep saying you are one of the best teams in Europe, you have to show it. If we do that then we can say it but at the moment we haven’t proved that in Europe,” Bergkamp said.