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Leonardo


Fourteen years ago Inter Milan and Schalke 04 met in a two-legged UEFA Cup final.

After both sides had won their home ties 1-0, it was the German outfit that prospered on penalty kicks, lifting the trophy inside the San Siro stadium.

So, when former England international Gary Lineker drew these sides together for the up-and-coming Champions League quarter-final, it provided the Italian side with a chance of inflicting some revenge.

The bookmakers make Inter comfortable favourites to set up a semi-final date with either Chelsea or Manchester United, but in knocking out Valencia in the previous round, Schalke have shown their credentials.

So, taking that into consideration, Footy Matters has provided five reasons why European Cup holders Inter may not have it all their own way over the next week.


Cesar

CESAR’S BLUNDERS

The Brazilian goalkeeper was one of the most consistent performers during the Nerazzurri’s record breaking treble season last year, so much so that he was widely considered as the best custodian in world football.

However, mistakes have crept into the shot stoppers game this campaign, none more so than the two that allowed Bayern Munich’s Mario Gomez to benefit in the last round.

Cesar has confessed that his string of errors has affected the mental side of his game, even reportedly walking home from the San Siro to clear his head after his error allowed Bayern to return to Germany with a 1-0 victory.


GENEROUS DEFENCE

Jose Mourinho’s treble winning side, like all off ‘the special ones’ teams were built on solid foundations. Inter under the stewardship of first Rafael Benitez and now Leonardo have been suspect in defence.

And that statement was backed by Saturday’s defensive display against rivals AC, who swept aside the Nerazzurri with three unanswered goals.

Central defender Walter Samuel is ruled out for the season through injury, while Brazilian Lucio is suspended.

That leaves the inexperienced Andrea Ranocchia who is likely to be paired with either Ivan Cordoba or Cristian Chivu – both of whom have been sent off in recent Serie A fixtures.



Wes

WEARY SNEIJDER?

Having been the creative lynchpin last season, featuring in a large majority of Inter’s matches, Wesley Sneijder then reached the World Cup final with Holland.

Such a high number of appearances have led to many in recent weeks questioning whether the Dutch maestro is suffering from a burnout.

The 26-year-old has already spent a number of weeks on the treatment table this season, while also struggling to be at his imaginative best when he has featured in the starting line-up.

Many also point to his failure to land the Ballon d’Or award as another factor behind his drop in performance levels.


LIVELY FARFAN

For those of you that hadn’t heard of Jefferson Farfan before Schalke’s clash with Valencia, his performance in that tie (which included two goals) certainly propelled him onto the Champions League radar.

The 26-year-old livewire has been one of the shining light in what has been a disappointing domestic season for the Royal Blues.

Inter’s defence showed on Saturday that quick movement is something they find hard to nullify, with Alexandre Pato the beneficiary on that occasion. Farfan is from a similar mould and will be one of the main threats to Inter’s progression.


raul

RAUL’S EXPERIENCE

The legs may not quite have the spring they once did, but Spanish centre forward Raul has shown on numerous occasions during this Champions League campaign that there is still plenty of life left in his career.

The Real Madrid legend bagged an all-important away goal during Schalke’s encounter with Valencia, while also proving to be a threat during the return leg in Gelsenkirchen.

With a defender as inexperienced as Ranocchia in the Inter defensive ranks, 33-year-old Raul will be licking his lips at the prospect of coming up against the former Genoa man.




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