Adriano's absence fuels Internazionale tensions

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The Independent Football

The Brazil forward returned late from a South American World Cup qualifier and missed Inter's 5-0 Serie A win against Livorno on Sunday.

The midfielder Juan Sebastian Veron and the defender Marco Materazzi were particularly upset at Adriano's absence. "All the other players arrived and he didn't, it's not fair to the group," Veron said.

Roberto Mancini, the Inter coach, said that he would have to see what condition Adriano was in before he names him in the line-up for the Group H game against Porto.

"The team can win without Adriano, but it can't do without him if it wants to attain its big goals," Mancini said.

If Adriano does not play, either Julio Ricardo Cruz or Alvaro Recoba will partner Nigeria striker Obafemi Martins in attack.

Although Inter top the group with two wins and Porto have been beaten twice, Mancini still believes the Portuguese club will be dangerous. "They play well - they should have won both of their Champions' League games and they lost both," he said. "They need a good result and so do we. It will be a tough game."

The Porto coach Co Adriaanse is under pressure not only because of the two Champions' League defeats, but also after a 2-0 reverse at home against Benfica - Benfica's first win in Porto in 14 years - at the weekend.

Internazionale's city rivals Milan face PSV Eindhoven at the San Siro tonight in a repeat of last season's Champions' League semi-final.

Milan won the first leg 2-0 then lost the return 3-1 and advanced to the final on away goals. "PSV are always an opponent to fear because its coach has made a very big impact," the Milan captain Paolo Maldini said of Guus Hiddink. "They're always a tight-knit team."

Christian Vieri should line up in attack alongside Andrei Shevchenko. Filippo Inzaghi made his first appearance this season in the closing minutes of Milan's recent Serie A game against Cagliari and should start on the bench.

Kaladze and Cafu are expected to line up around Maldini and Jaap Stam in defence with Alessandro Nesta out following surgery on his left thumb.

Milan lead Group E with four points. PSV and Fenerbahce have three, while Schalke have one.

PSV hope the Peru striker Jefferson Farfan can play after suffering a heel injury in World Cup qualifying last week. "I'll play, even if it hurts," he said. "The medicine is working well and I'm feeling better."

Hiddink was more cautious. "It will be questionable until the last hours before the game," he said. "I'm not going to take any stupid chances." Another player in limbo is Ibrahim Afellay, who dropped out of the game against AZ Alkmaar on Saturday due to cramps. Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink and Theo Lucius will both miss the match.

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