Inter will face Shalke at the San Siro in tonight’s other Champions League quarter final first leg tie. The holders will be looking to draw on their success in the previous round against Bayern Munich, where they overcame a 3-1 aggregate scoreline to draw 3-3 and take the tie on away goals. Domestically it has been a disappointing season for Inter, something which was highlighted by Saturday’s 3-0 defeat to city rivals AC Milan, but skipper Javier Zanetti has called on his team-mates to put their Serie A woes behind them tonight. “It’s a disappointment to everyone, but we have to look forward,” the Argentine full back said. Shalke meanwhile remain 11th in the Bundesliga after their game against St Pauli on Friday was abandoned two minutes from time when the linesman was struck with a missile, with Shalke leading 2-0. The German side’s preparations have been hampered by a change in management, with Ralf Rangnick replacing Felix Magath for his second spell as Schalke coach.
Shalke have proved a tough side to break down in this season’s competition, conceding just 5 goals so Inter will welcome the return of front man Diego Milito who made his comeback from a thigh injury on Saturday after almost two months on the sidelines. Andrea Ranocchia (knee) and Cristian Chivu (calf) could both keep their places at the heart of Inter’s defence, with Walter Samuel (knee) a long-term absentee and Lucio suspended. Christoph Metzelder is expected to feature for Schalke wearing a protective face mask after breaking his nose in the abandoned match at St Pauli. Midfielders Mario Gavranovic (ankle) and Peer Kluge (abdominal strain) remain doubtful for tonight’s game after suffering injuries on Friday. Former AC Milan striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar (knee) is not expected to feature as he has been out of action since early March, while Christoph Moritz (knee) and Christian Pander (toe) are also set to miss out on tonight’s last eight tie.
With both sides struggling domestically this season, the tie offers the winners a fantastic chance to salvage some glory this season. While Shalke have looked strong defensively in this season’s competition, the likes of Hapoel Tel-Aviv and Benfica have not offered severe tests for the Bundesliga side and Inter could prove too strong with the attacking threat posed by the likes of Wesley Sneijder, Diego Milito and Samuel Eto’o. However, with all-time Champions League top scorer Raul Gonzalez in their ranks, Shalke will always believe they have a chance – if they can keep Inter’s front men quiet.