Left: Inter Milan Brazilian forward Adriano Right: Manchester United forward Cristiano Ronaldo - AP photos
Manchester United are likely to tone down their usual attacking brand of football when they visit the San Siro today, Inter Milan coach Jose Mourinho said yesterday.
"I'm not saying they're scared of us, but they respect us. I don't think they'll come with their usual approach," Mourinho said. "They will change more than us. "
"I doubt they will play with (Cristiano) Ronaldo, (Wayne) Rooney, (Carlos) Tevez and (Dimitar) Berbatov, as they often do in the Premier League. They aren't coming to San Siro to win."
Alex Ferguson's side is currently facing a defensive crisis. Nemanja Vidic is suspended, Gary Neville and Wes Brown are injured and doubts remain about the fitness of Johnny Evans and John O'Shea. Midfielder Michael Carrick may even be pressed into duty as a makeshift centre back.
In Mourinho, Inter have a coach who knows well how to beat United.
During his time in charge of Chelsea, he lost only one of 10 matches with United.
"When we were drawn against them I was happy because we know that we have a difficult opponent ahead of us. But I know that I don't need a big opponent to motivate my players. I'm 100 per cent certain we can do it," he said.
Like Ferguson, Mourinho has a few worries over his central defensive pairing. However, he has no such fears further up the field and said his team's midfield and attack would be the same as started the Milan derby.
"We will play a midfield diamond, with (Esteban) Cambiasso, (Javier) Zanetti, (Dejan) Stankovic and (Sulley) Muntari, with (Zlatan) Ibrahimovic and Adriano in attack. In defence, definitely (Davide) Santon and Maicon. The choice of the centre backs depends and without (Walter) Samuel everyone else has a chance."
Meanwhile midfielder Stankovic said he believes a win over the reigning European champion would give Inter the confidence to go all the way in Europe's premier club competition.
Inter made hard work of qualifying from the Champions League group stage, finishing second behind Panathinaikos and losing matches at home to the Greek side and Werder Bremen.
Stankovic believes that he and his teammates need to develop a winning mentality in Europe if they want to defeat a United side that has won 10 consecutive matches.
"Only the head (has been the problem). By that I mean the right approach to the key matches," Stankovic said, "Now is the moment to rewrite the script."
"With Inter I have won nearly everything, but I don't want to finish without having gone beyond the Champions League quarter-finals because we have the potential to make it to the end. Overcoming Manchester United will give us the belief to aim for the final."
The Serbian international also said that Inter needs to capitalise on the absence of his international teammate Vidic.
"I know Vidic well and he has played a big part in (Edwin) Van der Sar being unbeaten for so long. His absence will be felt as he is one of the three best defenders in the world."
Assistant United coach Mike Phelan said that the return to European competition gives the team fresh focus.
"The return to European football comes at a nice time for us," Phelan said. "We've had a successful spell of cup and Premier League football, and now we kick on to the big-time European stage.
"We've been pitted against one of the top clubs in Europe with a manager who has a great track record, so the challenge is there for both teams."