Monaco's mountain to climb

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The Independent Online
Monaco must find their best form if they are to overcome Internazionale in the second leg of their Uefa Cup semi-final tonight.

The French champions-elect, who had won all their previous away legs in this season's competition, played poorly and lost 3-1 in the first leg in Italy two weeks ago.

Monaco's French international defender, Patrick Blondeau, said yesterday: "What we have to prove to everyone is that we're a great team by turning round an unfavourable result, something we haven't had to do this season."

Monaco, on the verge of their sixth French league title, found their game in the second half in Milan and scored what could prove to be a crucial goal from a substitute, the Nigerian striker Victor Ikpeba - their top scorer with six goals in the competition.

Their difficulties continued with a 2-0 league defeat at Bordeaux last week, in which Ikpeba was on from the start, and the tension at their training camp in the mountains above the principality has been palpable.

But their coach Jean Tigana and his players have worked hard at concentrating their minds on tonight's tough task, when they must pull back two goals to stand any chance of reaching their second European final, following a losing appearance in the 1992 European Cup-Winners' Cup to the German side, Werder Bremen.

''The objective from the start is to not concede a goal and to attack as much as possible," Tigana said. "We've got to manage to score in the first half in order to not make the situation even more difficult for ourselves."

Tigana will rely on the veteran Enzo Scifo, who returns to his first club Anderlecht at the end of the season, to dictate play against another of his former clubs.

Inter, whose priority is one of Italy's two European Cup places next season, will look to close all the gaps in defence to avoid conceding the early goal.

Inter were encouraged by a 2-1 away win against Cagliari on Saturday but also by Udinese's 2-0 defeat of Parma which left them third in Serie A with just six games to play and a place in next season's European Cup a possibility.

Inter's experienced captain, Giuseppe Bergomi, said: "It was a big boost for us to win at Cagliari where no side, not even Juventus, had won for six months. I've always said that I'd prefer to finish second in the league rather than win the Uefa Cup and therefore Parma's defeat was good news for us."

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