BERLIN - Schalke 04 will be in buoyant
mood when they aim to complete a stunning Champions League upset
against holders Inter Milan on Wednesday.
New coach Ralf Rangnick has injected a winning mentality
since taking over, masterminding a sensational 5-2 victory in
the San Siro and erasing the club's Bundesliga relegation fears
with a win against VfL Wolfsburg on Saturday.
"We are leading 5-2 at half-time. Now we have to go out and
be equally dominant as in Milan. We will play as if it is 0-0,"
said Rangnick, who took over late last month after his
predecessor Felix Magath had steered Schalke to the last eight.
Inter became the first team defending the European Cup to
concede five goals in a match home or away, adding to the
pressure on coach Leonardo, the second man in the hot seat since
Jose Mourinho after Rafa Benitez's sacking in December.
Schalke have won all three games under Rangnick and the
52-year-old said they could do it again as they attempt to reach
their first Champions League semi-final.
"We are very near," he told reporters. "Inter have a great
offence but are vulnerable at the back.
"Because Inter will come out attacking we will have spaces.
We want to use them."
Defender Benedikt Hoewedes added: "We have taken a lot of confidence with our win against
Wolfsburg," after the win
against the club managed by former coach Felix Magath.
"Now we have the necessary calm for the game against Inter."
However, he warned that there was still work to do before
they could book their place in the semi-final against either
Manchester United or Chelsea.
"Inter will most certainly try to reverse the result somehow
and their front line is outstanding, that is no secret," said
Hoewedes, who is again expected to be partnered in central
defence by Joel Matip instead of Christoph Metzelder.
Schalke have now won all three games since Rangnick replaced
Magath late last month.
Rangnick will likely use 19-year-old defender Kyriakos
Papadopoulos in a holding midfield role just as he has done in
the past two matches, while Brazilian Edu, who scored twice in
the first leg, should again partner Raul up front.
Inter restored some pride after an awful week by beating
Chievo 2-0 in Serie A on Saturday but the holders know they have
an almost impossible task in overturning Schalke's first leg
advantage when they travel to Gelsenkirchen.
Striker Samuel Eto'o has not given up hope though, according
to coach Leonardo.
"Inside I believe that anything is possible," the manager
told reporters. "I believe it and the players believe it too.
Eto'o perhaps believes it more than anyone.
"He has plenty of comeback tales and he has played a part in
lots of them. He told us all about them and they were great to
Leonardo had previously said it was "unrealistic" to expect
his side to turn things around but Inter still plan to go and
hold their heads up high as they all but certainly wave goodbye
to their cherished trophy which took 45 years to regain.
Inter's Argentina defender Walter Samuel has been included
in their squad after missing the last five months because of a
cruciate ligament injury.
Doctors had expected the centre-back to be out for the
season after reconstructive surgery but the 33-year-old, who
suffered a similar problem in 2007, has quickly recovered having
collapsed to the ground in agony against Brescia in November.
Playmaker Wesley Sneijder was included in the squad despite
a bout of flu while Cristian Chivu, sent off in the 3-0 derby
loss to AC Milan earlier this month which looks to have cost
Inter a sixth consecutive scudetto, is banned following his red
card in the first leg but Lucio is available after serving a
Schalke 04: 1-Manuel Neuer; 22-Atsuto Uchida, 4-Benedikt
Hoewedes, 32-Joel Matip, 2-Hans Sarpei; 18-Jose Jurado,
17-Jefferson Farfan, 14-Kyriakos Papadopoulos, 11-Alexander
Baumjohann; 9-Edu, 7-Raul.
Inter Milan: 1-Julio Cesar; 13-Maicon, 6-Lucio, 15-Andrea
Ranocchia, 55-Yuto Nagatomo; 4-Javier Zanetti, 8-Thiago Motta,
19-Esteban Cambiasso; 5-Dejan Stankovic; 9-Samuel Eto'o,
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