Crunch time for Inter as CSKA go on defensive

Internazionale may be struggling to hold together their domestic title challenge, but there can be no doubting their quest to deliver club president Massimo Moratti's obsession of a first European Cup for 45 years, at least according to Jose Mourinho.

"Inter are having a great Champions League," declared Mourinho yesterday as he prepared his side to face CSKA Moscow in tonight's first leg of the quarter-final at San Siro.

Defeat at Roma on Saturday allowed Claudio Ranieri's side to close the gap at the top of Serie A to a point – losing the Scudetto to the man he succeeded at Chelsea would grate – after a poor run of form that has seen them win just two league games in eight since Valentine's Day.

"We have played eight [Champions League] games, including four against two of the best teams in the world; two against Barcelona, the world champions [a draw and a defeat] and two against Chelsea who many thought were too strong for us," said Mourinho. "The victory over Chelsea was fantastic for us."

That victory had been preceded by another Serie A loss – 3-1 at Catania – so the Italian champions do not appear to be transferring their domestic form abroad. But Arrigo Sacchi, the former Italy manager and one of the masterminds behind Milan's glory days, has accused Inter of taking their eye off the ball domestically, and that that could damage them on both fronts. "They lacked the furore they showed in London," he said of their defeat in Rome. "The poor results are worrying signs for Inter. The reason behind their abrupt slowdown is the Champions League."

Inter remain strong favourites to beat the Russian side, who are playing in the last eight of Europe's premier competition for the first time in 17 years, even without the suspended duo of Lucio and Thiago Motta, although chances in Milan tonight may be at a premium. The onus will be firmly on the home side to make the running. "It will be more difficult than the game in London," predicted Samuel Eto'o, the Inter striker who scored the key goal at Stamford Bridge.

CSKA manager Leonid Slutsky, an interested observer in Rome on Saturday, has stated his intent to adopt an ultra-defensive approach. "It is very difficult to play against this kind of team," said Mourinho. "They are very compact."

CSKA will wear black armbands following the suicide bombings in the Russian capital on Monday. "The city of Moscow has cried and it's a loss for all of Russia," said Slutsky. "We will do our utmost to honour our country and our football with great pride."

Life and Style
Steve Shaw shows Kate how to get wet behind the ears and how to align her neck
healthSteven Shaw - the 'Buddha of Breaststroke' - applies Alexander Technique to the watery sport
A poster by Durham Constabulary
Cameron Jerome
footballCanaries beat Boro to gain promotion to the Premier League
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine