Christian Vieri is hoping to shoot Internazionale into the Uefa Cup quarter-finals with a big win over AEK Athens at San Siro tonight.
Painfully aware of the perils of playing in Greece, where AEK will have fanatical support for the second leg, Vieri wants Inter to all but put the fourth-round tie out of their reach.
"They are a good squad and they are first in the Greek championship," he warned. "It will be difficult if we don't perform well at home because the return match in Athens could prove complicated – they have a big support."
As it is, Inter will be without the suspended midfielder Luigi di Biagio for the first leg and the Greek defender Grigorios Georgatos will miss the chance to take on his compatriots due to back trouble. In Georgatos's absence, Vratislav Gresko is likely to fill the left-back position. The Uruguayan striker Alvaro Recoba will make his first Uefa Cup appearance of the season in the game, after returning from his passport ban.
Inter's cause has been helped by an injury which will keep AEK's Greek international striker Demis Nikolaidis out. The 28-year-old has an injured right arm. However, the former Leicester City midfielder Theo Zagorakis has declared himself fit and the centre-back Carlos Gamarra also looks set for a return.
The Parma striker Marco Di Vaio believes players who do not want to make the journey to Israel for a fourth-round Uefa Cup tie tonight should be allowed to stay at home.
Parma travel to face Hapoel Tel Aviv for the first leg of their tie despite the political tension in the area which has cost many lives in recent months. "When we knew we had to go to Israel, we were a bit worried, but no one even thought of not participating," said Di Vaio on Parma's official website. "But I think that if someone was scared, they should be allowed not to come."
Earlier in the competition, five Chelsea players refused to fly to Israel for their second round tie and the premier league side eventually lost 3-1 on aggregate and 2-0 in Tel Aviv.
Di Vaio, who is likely to be rested for tonight's game, is trying to approach the occasion simply as sport, not politics. "For us it is only a game of football. I hope that everyone else sees it like I do – that is the spirit we are going there with," he added. "They have assured us that it is going to be a game like all the others. It may not have the same atmosphere, but we will go there to play football."Reuse content