Internazionale are looking to solidify their Group G lead against CSKA Moscow in the Champions League tonight. The Serie A pacesetters will want to make the game less complicated than the same match-up in Moscow two weeks ago when Inter had to come from behind to win through Walter Samuel's 80th-minute header.
"If we win we'll be very close to qualifying," said Javier Zanetti, who is preparing to play his 107th game in Europe. CSKA's Brazilian forwards, Vagner Love and Jo, have scored 13 goals each in the Russian league this season. "With the dangerous strikers they have, they're a team that can create problems for anyone and they already showed that during the game in Moscow," said Zanetti.
Inter lead the group with six points. Fenerbahce are next with five points, followed by PSV with four and CSKA with one. But while Inter's high-powered attack of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Hernan Crespo, Julio Ricardo Cruz and David Suazo is in fine form, the rest of the side are in disarray. Luis Figo broke his right leg in Sunday's draw at Juventus and could be out for two months. Fellow midfielders Patrick Vieira and Dejan Stankovic are also out, and defender Marco Materazzi still has not returned from thigh surgery before the season began.
Vieira is expected to be out until the end of the year with a calf problem, while Stankovic is missing with an ankle strain and Chilean Luis Jimenez is also out because of a thigh injury.
Defender Nicolas Burdisso still has three games left on his six-match ban for a post-game brawl with Valencia last season, while Maicon's three-match suspension is up, clearing him to play. Reserve goalkeeper Francesco Toldo is also out, but Julio Cesar, the first choice, has returned from a back problem.
Tests on Monday revealed that Figo fractured his shin against Juventus. "The midfielder has fractured the fibula in his right leg," the Serie A champions said in a statement, adding that he was due to undergo surgery yesterday. The former Real Madrid and Portugal player came off in the second half after a foul by the Czech midfielder Pavel Nedved, who was booked.
Without Figo, Vieira and Stankovic, Inter's resources in midfield will be stretched. Coach Roberto Mancini is likely to opt for a four-man diamond formation of Esteban Cambiasso, Olivier Dacourt, Santiago Solari and Maxwell – although Zanetti could also move up from defence.
"I want to be useful for the team, depending on whatever position the coach chooses for me. That's the spirit I've always had," Zanetti said. "The team has to be able to confront this difficult situation. We're going to have to make sacrifices for the good of the team."
CSKA are seeking their first win in this season's competition, with their only points so far coming in a 2-2 draw with Fenerbahce.