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Spirit of 2010

sports Updated: Feb 23, 2011 02:07 IST
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The last time Inter Milan and Bayern Munich met, they were both 90 minutes away from the perfect season. This time they are just looking for salvation.

The Italian and German champions will contest the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie on Wednesday in a repeat of last year's final.

Inter's 2-0 victory at the Bernabeu that night gave the Nerazzurri the treble of Serie A, Italian Cup and Champions League while Bayern were left with Bundesliga and German Cup double.

Nine months on, both teams are struggling to live up to such high standards. Bayern's hopes of retaining the Bundesliga title look all but over having dropped 13 points behind leaders Borussia Dortmund.

"It's pretty much impossible for Bayern to win the Bundesliga this season in my opinion," forward Arjen Robben told Kicker magazine. "I'd say that we have more chance of winning the Champions League than scooping the domestic title."

Inter, who fired Jose Mourinho's replacement Rafael Benitez in December, are third in Serie A, five points behind leaders AC Milan, although they have looked much brighter in attack since ex-AC Milan boss Leonardo took over.

Inter, who fielded eight South Americans in their starting line-up in last May's final, will be missing Argentine forward Diego Milito, who is out with a hamstring strain.

Milito, the scorer of both goals in the final, is likely to be replaced by Goran Pandev, with Samuel Eto'o the other forward.

Wesley Sneijder and Lucio missed Saturday's 1-0 Serie A win over Cagliari with knocks but are expected to return for the Bayern game given its importance, even if the Dutchman will not be 100 percent fit after a groin problem.