Liverpool looks to finish it off
Liverpool will be trying to become the fourth English team to reach the Champions League quarterfinals when it faces Inter Milan on Tuesday.
Liverpool won the first leg 2-0 at Anfield with late goals from Dirk Kuyt and Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard. Inter had played a man down for more than half of the match following the expulsion of Marco Materazzi.
Though Inter's defense will have to do without the suspended Materazzi as well as the injured Ivan Cordoba and Walter Samuel, Gerrard is not taking anything for granted.
"Inter Milan are a top side and we know what a difficult task it is going to be to get through," Gerrard said. "We'll probably need to turn in our best performance of the season to do it. We'll need a really big display with every player fighting for every ball and showing everyone how desperate we are to go into the last eight." Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal have already reached the quarterfinals, joining FC Barcelona, AS Roma, Schalke and Fenernahce.
Inter is likely to be able to count on defender Christian Chivu, who indicated he would be on the field Tuesday.
"I still have pain, but the threshold than I can take has moved considerably higher," Chivu said. "I will put myself at the disposition of the coach."
Liverpool warmed up for the game with a 3-0 win over Newcastle in the Premier League on Saturday. The win is Liverpool's fourth straight in the league since the victory over Inter and kept the team in fourth place behind the three teams that have already qualified for the Champions League quarterfinals. Inter leads the Serie A by six points, but it had difficulty squeezing by second-to-last Reggina 2-0 Saturday. A stellar performance by goalkeeper Julio Cesar saved Inter on several occasions.
Inter had been without a win in its previous three league games, including its first loss of the season to Napoli and two draws. Gerrard said that despite Liverpool's 2-0 win in the first leg, the team will not set up defensively as it seeks to repeat last year's appearance in the Champions League final. The Reds won the tournament in 2005.
"We can't go there thinking we've got a 2-0 lead," Gerrard said. "We're going there with a mind-set of it being 0-0 and us needing to produce another majestic European performance to get through."
The return of Sweden striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who started Saturday's game and scored on a penalty kick after missing two weeks with a knee injury, could be key. Inter coach Roberto Mancini will also be able to call on strikers Julio Cruz, who is back from injury, and Hernan Crespo, who left Saturday's game with a slight injury.
"Tuesday we'll need one of those evenings where everything goes right," Mancini said. "If we don't manage to pass the round it wouldn't be a failure. In soccer there are also defeats and what's important is to always try to win and that's what we do." In the 1965 European Cup semifinals, Inter overturned a 3-1 deficit to reach the final and win the title.
"I think this game will be like climbing Everest," Crespo said.