season has been so up and down few fans would be shocked if they
put on a stunning show at Olympique Marseille in Wednesday's
Champions League last-16 first leg despite poor recent form.
The 2010 European champions have lost their last two Serie A
home games in embarrassing fashion, going down 1-0 to
relegation-threatened Novara and then being outplayed 3-0 by
The defeats have led some supporters to call for coach
Claudio Ranieri's dismissal despite the former Chelsea, Juventus
and AS Roma coach having previously revitalised the club after a
dreadful start to the season under Gian Piero Gasperini.
Inter rose from the lower reaches of Serie A to the top four
but now they are back down in seventh, with the Champions League
looking like the only trophy they can win having also been
dumped out of the Italian Cup as holders.
"There is a good team here and the club is healthy and
strong," Ranieri told Italian TV.
The coach then turned his attentions to fit-again Dutch
midfielder Wesley Sneijder who has been in and out of the team
in recent weeks.
"He's not a problem but a solution - but at the right time,"
said Ranieri. "I think an Inter coach is duty-bound to try to
integrate players with a special quality.
"I'll have to take some decisions and I will," added the
coach who may be glad his ageing team are away in the first leg.
MODELS OF CONSISTENCY
In contrast to Inter's roller-coaster form, Marseille have
been models of consistency of late and have not lost in any
competition for 15 games stretching back to November's Champions
League group stage defeat at home to Olympiakos Piraeus.
The Champions League is one arena where the 1993 winners
have not outshone Inter, Didier Deschamps's side scraping
through with a last-gasp 3-2 victory at Borussia Dortmund while
the Italians advanced as group winners.
Inter lost twice though, notably in their San Siro opener
against Turkish debutants Trabzonspor.
Ranieri has no new injury worries to complicate an already
difficult task of reviving his team for the Stade Velodrome
clash although defender Walter Samuel could return after injury
and Diego Forlan is finally available having been cup-tied.
Marseille are without France striker Loic Remy who has been
ruled out for three weeks with a thigh injury.
Jordan and Andre Ayew have come back from the Africa Cup of
Nations, where they reached the semi-finals with Ghana, and
at least one of them should start up front.
France midfielder Alou Diarra, replaced at half-time in the
fourth-placed team's 1-1 home Ligue 1 draw against Valenciennes
on Saturday after taking a blow on his toe, is expected to be
"He was better on Sunday but we have to wait a little bit.
It doesn't seem to be serious so we hope he will be there
against Inter," assistant coach Guy Stephan told the club's
Marseille: 30-Steve Mandanda; 24-Rod Fanni, 3-Nicolas
N'Koulou, 21-Souleymane Diawara, 13-Djimi Traore; 4-Alou Diarra,
12-Charles Kabore, 18-Morgan Amalfitano; 28-Mathieu Valbuena,
9-Brandao, 20-Andre Ayew.
Inter: 1-Julio Cesar; 13-Maicon, 6-Lucio, 23-Andrea
Ranocchia, 55-Yuto Nagatomo; 4-Javier Zanetti, 19-Esteban
Cambiasso, 18-Andrea Poli; 10-Wesley Sneijder; 7-Giampaolo
Pazzini, 9-Diego Forlan.
Referee: Cuneyt Cakir (Turkey)
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