Barcelona striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic is confident that if his side are faithful to their style of football then they do not need to be worried about the physical threat from Inter Milan and can turn around their Champions League semifinal tie.
Coach Pep Guardiola has constructed an all-conquering side that swept all before them last season, but now they face their toughest European test against Inter after losing the first-leg 3-1.
The showdown at the San Siro was about two different styles of football. The free-flowing open game of Guardiola was pitted against the controlled approach of Jose Mourinho, and it was the Inter coach who came out on top.
Inter out-fought their opponents, hassling them out of their stride, leading to several Barca players complaining afterwards that the referee was too lenient.
There is plenty of belief in Catalonia, though, that Barcelona can impose their own passing game on Inter at the Nou Camp on Wednesday and knock out the Italian champions.
“We will have to press but most importantly we must play our own football. They are going to play strongly and aggressively but we have to be concentrated on our own game,” said Ibrahimovic.
“We have to be ready for this war. They are going to exploit their virtues but we cannot change our way of playing like we did in Milan. We lost because we did not play our usual football, not because they won with their approach.
“The 3-1 result looks a heavy defeat but in reality it is the same as 1-0. If you look at our last two Champions League games at home, how many goals did we score? Against Stuttgart it was four and then against Arsenal another four. We are a team that scores a lot of goals, which you need to do if you want to get to the final.”
The tie has extra spice with Ibrahimovic facing the side he left last summer, with Samuel Eto’o moving in the opposite direction, but the Swede denies he can be of any real use in giving advice about the Inter camp.
“This team is very different from the one in which I played as there are four or five new players, which has made the team a lot more complete and so I can’t really help too much,” he said.
“The coach is also very well informed with his scouts, but if he asks me anything, of course I will do what I can.”
Barca remain top of the Spanish table after beating Xerez 3-1 but it was a nervous display with minds clearly on the Inter match.
Guardiola will be without the injured Andres Iniesta and Carles Puyol, who is suspended. The only real doubt in the line-up is whether fullback Eric Abidal will be fit in time and, if not, Maxwell will continue in his place.
Inter returned to the top of the Italian table at the weekend with a win over Atalanta and their main concern is over the fitness of midfielder Wesley Sneijder, a key figure in the first leg.
The Dutchman picked up a hamstring strain but is hoping to be fit. Dejan Stankovic is out, though, through suspension.
Inter president Massimo Moratti believes that the talk coming from Barcelona about the physical side of their game is an attempt to influence officials.
“Barcelona want to arrive at the final at all costs, which is normal and they are trying to put pressure on the referee. We are not going to be distracted and are fully concentrated on the game,” he said. — Sapa-AFP