Mourinho confident ahead of United clash

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The Independent Football

Inter Milan coach Jose Mourinho is convinced his side will be celebrating in a fortnight's time after both legs of their Champions League last 16 tie with Manchester United.

However, he does not expect the match to determined until the very end of the second leg at Old Trafford.



"I have told the players that they have got to go into this tie and not be afraid of the possibility of, in 15 days, Inter being out of Champions League.



"We have got to go into this tie thinking that in 15 days probably we can celebrate that we have beaten the European champions.



"Nothing will be decided tomorrow. After the game, we will all have the feeling that there is going to be another great game at Old Trafford.



"Probably come the last minute at Old Trafford, nobody knows who is going to go through.



"I am not expecting a result tomorrow that you can say it is done, that Manchester United or Inter have done it."



Mourinho holds the upper hand over Sir Alex Ferguson having lost only once in 10 previous meetings while he was in charge of Chelsea, but he does not expect that to be playing on the United manager's mind.



"From what I know of him as a coach, he has a lot of faith in himself and his team, and rightly too," he said.



"If I am relaxed here now, he will certainly be the same, if not more relaxed than me.



"It will be a great pleasure to meet him again and it will be the same for him. We have had a great relationship from the start built on great respect and I hope it goes on like this to the end."



Inter have hardly set the Champions League on fire in recent years with elimination to Valencia, Villarreal and Liverpool stopping them from advancing beyond the quarter-final stage, but those results came before Mourinho arrived.



One of the main reasons Mourinho was appointed to replace Roberto Mancini last summer was to take the Nerazzurri onto the next level in Europe, and that remains the aim.



"I don't think we have a block, I just think there are so many clubs in Europe who want to win the Champions League and not many of them can do it," he said.



"This competition is different to the league where there are normally three or four teams who can win the competition.



"In the Champions League I think there are a minimum of 10 to 12 teams with the ambition, quality and capacity to do it.



"Inter in the past went out in the last 16 to teams like Valencia or Villarreal who they should normally be beating, but that's football.



"In 2004, Manchester United went out to a young Porto that nobody would have even bet a euro on winning and that's football."



Inter's form in the competition so far this season does not concern Mourinho either.



The Italian champions emerged from their group with an inferior record to all of the other 15 qualifiers, but the Portuguese coach said it was sometimes hard for his players to find motivation for matches against sides like Panathinaikos and Anorthosis Famagusta.



The Red Devils are of a different calibre and Mourinho claims his team has already proven it can rise to the occasion in front of a sell-out crowd.



"I would be happy to have a team like the one we had at the San Siro against Juventus, Milan or Roma," he said.



"They were all teams with great quality and they were high pressure games from the media and the fans as they meant a lot.



"But we always responded well in these big games and that gives me faith, but football is football and you don't know what could happen."



Mourinho confirmed that Adriano and Zlatan Ibrahimovic would be leading his attack with Sulley Muntari, Esteban Cambiasso, Javier Zanetti and Dejan Stankovic in midfield.



"I think Man Utd is of course a great team technically, but I watch with great attention every match in the previous season in the Champions League," Mourinho added.



"Man Utd changed to play away from home. They are not going to come here to have fun.



"I am not saying they are afraid of us, no, but they respect us and they know that they can lose.



Nemanja Vidic is unavailable because of injury, but Mourinho dismissed the significance of his absence.



"They are only strong in defence because their opponents have been poor," he said.



"There are teams who go to Old Trafford and do not play with much ambition. It then becomes easier for them to control the game.



"Obviously Vidic is a great player, but they have O'Shea and Evans, who is playing really well, and Scholes and Carrick give them a lot of stability so the fact Vidic is not playing will not be a big advantage for us."



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