Veron upbeat for Porto crunch

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The Independent Football

Internazionale and Porto have had an extra week to prepare for tonight's Champions' League last 16 second-leg tie but neither has used it well.

The first game ended 1-1 in Portugal and the return was held over as Inter's neighbours Milan, who share the San Siro, were also drawn at home for their second leg.

The additional preparation has not helpedholders Porto, who were beaten 4-0 last Friday by Nacional Madeira, their worst home loss for 30 years.

Inter fought to a 1-1 draw at Lazio but were not impressive, only getting back into the game after the Rome side were reduced to 10 men. "We will definitely have to play better," said the Inter coach, Roberto Mancini. "It is a vital game."

Inter's season hangs on tonight's match. They are out of the Serie A title race, 16 points behind leaders Milan, but have reserved their best performances for Europe. "They are different matches in the Champions' League and this is like a final," the Inter midfielder Juan Sebastian Veron said.

The Colombian defender Ivan Cordoba and left back Giuseppe Favalli are suspended for Inter but Mancini hopes to have Marco Materazzi available. The Inter coach also has worries in attack where Nigerian Obafemi Martins and Italy international Christian Vieri are struggling for fitness and Uruguayan Alvaro Recoba is injured.

Porto are now three points behind Benfica in the Portuguese standings. "We have to lift our heads and fight. I hope we are able to react ," said Jose Couceiro, Porto's coach.

Couceiro can turn to captain Jorge Costa and Brazilian playmaker Diego, who both missed the first match through suspension. Brazilian striker Luis Fabiano, whose mother was kidnapped on Friday in her home town of Campinas, has not been included in the squad.

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