Mourinho believes Italians ready to challenge English dominance

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The Independent Online

Inter Milan coach Jose Mourinho believes Italy's Champions League contingent are ready to challenge the English dominance of recent years.

The Barclays Premier League has provided three out of four semi-finalists in Europe's elite club competition for the past two seasons, including Mourinho's Chelsea in 2006-07.

Eventual winners Manchester United and Chelsea fought out the first all-English final in Moscow last May, and the early signs are that the big four - which also includes Liverpool and Arsenal - are likely to make the knockout stages once again this season.

Having yielded four winning teams in eight years up to 1996, Serie A has been forced to play second fiddle to first Spain's La Liga and now the Premier League in the Champions League.

But Italy's four representatives - Inter, Juventus, Roma and Fiorentina - all stand in qualifying positions after two rounds of group matches and Mourinho is confident his adopted homeland can provide a realistic challenger this time around.

"It's true that England has been dominating the Champions League the past few years," the Portuguese told BBC's Inside Sport programme in an interview to be aired tonight.

"I'm not saying we're going to change that - but I think all four of us can arrive in the last 16.

"If all four English teams arrive too, which looks very, very possible too - that would be very good for us.

"If I have to win the Champions League I don't see a difference between Inter and Bayern Munich, Barcelona, Real Madrid and Juventus.

"There is only one cup for 10, 12 top teams to win it. In the end the cup goes to only one. We will fight for that, of course we will."

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