Inter v Barcelona preview
Mourinho plans to shackle Messi at the Giuseppe Meazza
Last Updated: 20/04/10 8:41pm
Mourinho: European mission
The Special One meets the special player on Tuesday night as Inter Milan welcome Barcelona to the Giuseppe Meazza for the first leg of their UEFA Champions League semi-final.
Inter manager Jose Mourinho will have been plotting ways to shackle the magical Lionel Messi ever since the Barcelona star's wonderful four-goal performance eliminated Arsenal in the quarter-finals.
Mourinho's team progressed to the last four in slightly less spectacular fashion than their defending champion opponents following a comfortable 2-0 aggregate elimination of CSKA Moscow.
But Inter's clinically-efficient knockout job on Chelsea in last 16 has significantly increased the stock of a team perennially labelled as underachievers on the European stage and there is a suggestion that Mourinho is the man to derail Barcelona.
The Italians' cause will be helped by the fact that Pep Guardiola's Spanish pass-and-move kings arrived in Milan having endured a 14-hour coach journey due to the travel chaos caused by the volcanic ash cloud that has engulfed Europe.
Barcelona, though, remain favourites after avoiding defeat to Inter in Group F earlier in the competition as they drew 0-0 in Italy and inflicted a 2-0 defeat at Camp Nou, with Mourinho admitting his team were second best 'in terms of individual qualities and profile'.
But the Portuguese is adamant that his side have drastically improved since visiting the Catalan giants at the end of last November and he goes into the tie with a degree of characteristic confidence.
Inter are without defender Davide Santon due to a knee injury, while goalkeeper Francesco Toldo has a leg problem and also misses out.
Samuel Eto'o will play against the club he left last summer, which saw Zlatan Ibrahimovic move in the opposite direction, while former Real Madrid player Wesley Sneijder will be expected to play a key role.
Walter Samuel, Maicon, Javier Zanetti and Dejan Stankovic are all one booking away from missing the second leg.
Andres Iniesta is missing for Barcelona as the Spain international is recovering from a thigh injury.
Ibrahimovic returned from a calf problem to feature in Saturday's 0-0 draw with Espanyol and Eric Abidal is available after a groin tear.
UEFA Champions League Group A
UEFA Champions League Group B
UEFA Champions League Group C
|1||Paris St Germain||6||13|
UEFA Champions League Group D
|3||FC Viktoria Plzen||6||3|
UEFA Champions League Group E
|4||FC Steaua Bucuresti||6||3|
UEFA Champions League Group F
UEFA Champions League Group G
|2||Zenit St. Petersburg||6||6|
UEFA Champions League Group H