Veron confident 'improving' Inter can curtail Porto's reign

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The Independent Online

Juan Sebastian Veron, who failed to live up to his reputation as a world-class midfielder at Manchester United and Chelsea, said he wants to remain at Internazionale when his loan deal expires at the end of the season.

Juan Sebastian Veron, who failed to live up to his reputation as a world-class midfielder at Manchester United and Chelsea, said he wants to remain at Internazionale when his loan deal expires at the end of the season.

The Argentinian, who joined the Milan side in the summer from Chelsea, said: "I always see myself only at Inter. I will have to wait and see what the club decides because there are many things to consider, but my wish is certainly to remain here."

The 29-year-old has made 15 Serie A appearances this season, scoring twice. He has also played in all six of his side's Champions' League games and is expected to start in the away leg against Porto tonight.

Internazionale remain unbeaten in Italy's top flight but 16 draws have hindered their scudetto ambitions. However, Veron believes Inter are improving. "We have grown a lot since the start of the campaign," he said. "We are more mature. The only thing we have lacked is continuity."

Porto, the European Cup holders, expect to face a packed Internazionale defence at the Dragao Stadium. "It will be a very difficult game," the Porto coach, Jose Couceiro, said. "From what I've seen the Italian team is counting on resolving the tie in the second leg. [They're] coming to Porto to play cautious defence and not concede any goals, aiming for a draw."

Veron suggested otherwise, saying: "It won't be an easy match but we are going there to win and to try and have as few problems as possible for the second leg."

Porto's chances have been harmed however by a number of suspensions. They will be without their suspended captain Jorge Costa in defence and the Brazilian playmaker Diego. In addition the Brazilians Ibson, Leo Lima and Leandro are ineligible. After a poor start to the domestic season, Porto are level with Benfica at the top of the Portuguese league.

The Inter coach, Roberto Mancini, is expected to link the Nigerian striker Obafemi Martins with Adriano in the attack, while Veron should start on the right of midfield. Martins' pace is likely to give him the advantage over Christian Vieri, who will probably start on the bench.

Marco Materazzi will probably be preferred to Sinisa Mihajlovic in the centre of defence alongside the Colombian Ivan Cordoba. Mancini made a surprise decision in leaving the Uruguayan forward Alvaro Recoba and Edgar Davids out of the squad which travelled to Portugal.

Elsewhere in the Champions' League, Werder Bremen, who entertain Lyon, should have their German international striker Miroslav Klosé available, though he did not play at the weekend because of flu. Lyon have their young striker Brian Bergougnoux and defender Antoine Reveillère both out with ankle injuries. The influential Brazilian central defender Claudio Cacapa had been expected to return from a lengthy absence with a knee injury but in the end he did not make the squad.

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