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Uefa Cup Preview: Inter-Feyenoord
Inter - Feyenoord | News Archive
Inter's striker Nicola Ventola (Allsport)
On the contrary to their city arch-rivals Milan, who will face Borussia Dortmund in the other semifinal, Inter don't consider the Uefa Cup as the primary goal of their season.
After many years of huge disappointments, the Nerazzurri are finally close to their first Scudetto since the 1988-1989 season, and even if Cuper's men have done very well in Europe so far, most of their energies are projected towards a domestic league triumph.
Nevertheless, the superb determination that allowed Inter to defeat Valencia at the Mestalla in the second leg of the quarterfinals was a clear evidence of how focused the Nerazzurri are every time they play.
The Uefa Cup was a sort of "punishment" for Feyenoord, who joined this competition after being eliminated at the end of the first phase of the Champions League, but the Dutch side did very well in their three qualifying rounds, eliminating Freiburg and Glasgow Rangers, as well as their fellow countrymen PSV Eindhoven.
Just like their opponents, the Rotterdam team are fighting to win their domestic league: in the Eredivisie, Van Marwjik's men currently trail Ajax by two points, with one match less played.
TEAM NEWS AND PROBABLE LINEUPS
Inter: coach Cuper will miss his regular keeper Toldo, who was suspended for two rounds after having been ejected in the second leg match of the quarterfinal against Valencia and will be replaced by Fontana. Superstar Vieri will likely be rested, while Brazilian striker Ronaldo should start from the bench. Argentinean skipper Javier Zanetti is doubtful due to an injury to his left ankle.
Probable lineup: Fontana; Simic, Materazzi, Cordoba, Emre; Conceiçao, Di Biagio, C.Zanetti, Seedorf; Ventola, Kallon
Feyenoord: The major worry for coach Van Marwjik regards the recovery of influential centre-back Patrick Paauwe, who suffered an injury in last Sunday's clash with RKC Waalwjik. Loovens, Van Wonderen and Sprockel have the flu and their conditions will be checked a few hours before the kickoff.
Probable lineup: Zoetebier; Emerton, De Haan, Gyan, Rzasa; Kalou, Bosvelt, Ono, Leonardo; Tomasson, Van Hooijdonk
ROAD TO THE SEMIS
vs. Brasov 3-0 - at Brasov 3-0
vs. Wisla Krakow 2-0 - at Wisla Krakow 0-1
at Ipswich 0-1 ?vs. Ipswich 4-1
vs. AEK Athens 3-1 ?at AEK Athens 2-2
vs. Valencia 1-1 ?at Valencia 1-0
Eliminated in the first qualifying round of the Champions League
vs. Freiburg 1-0 ?at Freiburg 2-2
at Glasgow Rangers 1-1 ?vs. Glasgow Rangers 3-2
at PSV Eindhoven 1-1 ?vs. PSV Eindhoven 1-1 (5-4 on pk's)
Inter last 6 matches: DDWWWW. The Nerazzurri are on a roll and keep on doing great both in the Serie A and in the Uefa Cup. Three straight wins in the domestic league allowed Cuper's men to build a 3-point advantage over Roma with five rounds to go, but in the meanwhile Inter also managed to qualify for this semifinal, eliminating Liga giants Valencia despite a 1-1 home draw in the first leg match.
Feyenoord last 6 matches: WDWDWD. The guests have alternated wins and draws in their last six contests, but even the ties can be considered as positive results for them. Those against PSV secured Feyenoord a spot in this semifinal, while the one against RKC Waalwjik in the last round of the Dutch Eredivise allowed them to recover one point on league leaders Ajax, who suffered a tough defeat against Vitesse.
This is a very difficult match to predict. Both teams are fighting for the win in their respective leagues, but this is a semifinal and nobody will give up before the starting whistle. Inter's main worry will be not conceding a goal, so I expect Cuper's men to play with patience: a low-scoring win would be a good result for the Nerazzurri. On their part, the guests will try to exploit their counterattacks, but Inter's defence has been looking quite reliable of late and scoring won't be easy for the Dutch side. Narrow victory for the home team.
Inter 1 Feyenoord 0