Straight from the dark heart of Italy
“Yes, we can.”
It has a certain ring to it. It worked for Obama, so why not for Serie A’s finest in their quest to vanquish the English from Europe.
Inter, Juventus and AS Roma head into their Champions League last 16 second leg ties nursing various aches and pains, and in Roma’s case a few psycological issues.
Juve are first up putting Italian pride on the line, with Claudio Ranieri's men emerging from the Turin derby with a morale-boosting win and, apart from the loss of Mohamed Sissoko, are in good shape physically.
Alessandro Del Piero was kept on the bench, and the little man is itching to get among those Chelsea defenders - or should we say get under their feet, considering the feverish manner in which he was practising free-kicks during Sunday's training session.
"Let me at 'em boss, I won't let you down"
David Trezeguet also sat out the weekend game, and there is plenty of optimism within the camp that the forwards can deliver on Tuesday evening.
Ranieri wants an early goal, and the key - apart from a show of strength and courage - will be the service to the front two.
Pavel Nedved’s mop-top will be expected to pop up on the left to provide the crosses.
The veteran has already announced that he will call it a day at the end of season, and having never got over missing the final back in 2003 due to suspension, he knows this is his final shot to set the record straight.
Last shot at success for the mop-topped one
Nedved came on for the final quarter at the weekend and should be full
of running, although Sebastian Giovinco could well be the man to unlock
the Chelsea back-line if the game is still goalless heading into the
final 15 minutes.
The little dancing mite has finally been given a more regular run in the side and looks in just the sort of form to tip the balance in the Old Lady’s favour.
Sissoko’s absence is not such a major blow: the more defensively-minded Christian Poulsen is less likely to go maundering forward and can be relied upon to hold the line alongside Claudio Marchisio in the centre of midfield.
Inter are also in a pretty relaxed frame of mind, well for them away, after downing Genoa. However, Jose Mourinho will have to re-jig the centre of defence once again.
There is a strong possibility that Esteban Cambiasso will partner Walter Samuel at the back. The Titus Bramble of Italian football, Nelson Rivas, really is that unreliable.
In true Italian tradition, of course, defence will be key to Nerazzurri hopes, as will plenty of lung work in midfield.
Patrick Vieira has been grumbling that he cannot get a game, but it is hard to envisage the ailing Frenchman haring down the right-flank in pursuit of Ji-Sung Park.
Maybe Mourinho will have to bite the bullet and recall Ivan Cordoba, rather than withdrawing Cambiasso from his natural position.
Roma would be better off employing a psychologist than a physiotherapist ahead of Wednesday’s encounter with Arsenal.
It’s definitely a case of the jitters in the Eternal City, so great is the pressure to reach the final in their home town.
They need to settle into a better frame of mind or it won’t be Francesco Totti’s dodgy knee that will shatter their dreams.
However, there is still time for Inter and Roma to pull themselves together – in the meantime it’s all eyes on Juventus to get Italy off to a perfect start.
“Yes, we can.”
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