Olympique Marseille vs. Internazionale  1 - 0

Article

Ranieri laments low confidence

23 February 2012 03:47

Inter Milan coach Claudio Ranieri said his team's 1-0 loss at Marseille in the Champions League on Wednesday reflected his side's low confidence.

A goal from Andre Ayew in the dying moments of the match gave Ranieri's side their fourth straight defeat and their sixth loss from their last seven matches.

The loss leaves Inter with it all to do in the second leg of the round-of-16 encounter, which will be played on March 13 at San Siro.

"We knew they would come out strongly and add plenty of pressure in the first half, but we had good chances to take the lead," Ranieri told Sky Sports Italia.

"This was a snapshot of our situation, when things go wrong, they really go wrong."

"The tie is not over, if the stadium is filled with our fans, we can turn the score around."

The Italian coach was questioned about his tactical choices after Mauro Zarate and Diego Forlan were both included in his starting line-up against the Ligue 1 club.

"I needed quick players who are good in one-on-one situations," Ranieri said. "(Diego) Milito was not at 100 per cent."

"We missed luck, which has not been with us lately. Marseille hardly took a shot on goal."

"We are going through a negative moment. We did not deserve to lose this match."

In contrast, Marseille coach Didier Deschamps was delighted with the victory, and said his team must go to Milan in a positive mindset.

"It's a big satisfaction to get the win," Deschamps said. "Usually a goal at the end breaks in favour of Italian teams but we delivered a great game against a very strong team."

"In the last quarter, we really pushed and Dede's (Ayew) goal was the difference."

"Now we'll see how it goes in three weeks. I asked the players to push and I didn't want to make a change during the game which would weaken us offensively."

"We stuck to our tactics. There is always a risk with pushing on that you can be punished in the end, but scoring in the final minute didn't give them time to come back."

"Now we must be ambitious and must go there with the intention to get through, though Inter remain a great team."

Article

Champions League: Marseille 1 Inter Milan 0

22 February 2012 23:09

Andre Ayew's late goal saw Marseille defeat Inter Milan 1-0 in the first leg of their round-of-16 Champions League tie on Wednesday.

The Ghanaian's glancing header in stoppage time was enough to give the Ligue 1 outfit the advantage heading into the second leg, which will be held in Milan on March 13.

Marseille started well and enjoyed plenty of early possession, with Benoit Cheyrou going close in the early stages.

Cheyrou's strike from distance was deflected just wide while Cesar Azpilicueta fired over from long range.

Inter had chances of their own with Diego Forlan and Mauro Zarate forcing smart saves from Marseille shot-stopper Steve Mandanda.

A threatening free-kick from Mathieu Valbuena could have easily been turned in, only for Brandao and Souleymane Diawara to get in each other's way, while Esteban Cambiasso – who was Inter's most threatening player – had a goal-bound strike blocked by Diawara.

Inter sat back more in the second half as they tried to soak up Marseille's pressure and head back to the San Siro on level terms.

Didier Deschamps' side once again had lots of the ball but they were frustrated by their lack of cutting edge in attack.

The match seemed headed for a goalless stalemate but Ayew looked threatening late on and forced a series of saves from Inter's Julio Cesar.

One of those stops led to a corner from which the all-important goal was finally scored.

Valbuena's handy ball into the box was met by Ayew and he wheeled off in celebration as his header snuck past Cesar.

The Stade Velodrome crowd exploded in delight with the late goal and Inter were left to regret their defensive tactics.

The defeat will put even more pressure on the club's manager, Claudio Ranieri, with the Serie A giants now winless in their last seven matches.

Article

Inter better in Champions League, says Ranieri

21 February 2012 17:46

Inter coach Claudio Ranieri believes his side feel more comfortable in the Champions League than in Serie A.

Ranieri's side are currently seventh in the Serie A standings following a three-game losing streak, while they will take on Marseille in the Champions League round of 16 after finishing at the top of their group.

"At first, we had better results in the Champions League than in Serie A," Ranieri told France Football.

"The game is more open in the Champions League, while it is more closed in Italy."

"When I arrived (in September), we could not be 100 percent focused on Serie A. However, we immediately won our matches at CSKA Moscow and at Lille."

"I believe that this team has its natural habitat in the Champions League. Our players have a lot of experience in this competition, so they approach the matches with the right mentality and focus."

Ranieri also took the time to praise Marseille coach Didier Deschamps, saying: "He deserves to coach a big Italian club."

Article

Ayew eyes Inter test

21 February 2012 14:53

Marseille's Andre Ayew said Wednesday's Champions League clash with Inter Milan will be a tough test for his side.

Ayew has recently returned to the club from international duty with Ghana at the 2012 African Cup of Nations, and he has now turned his attention to upcoming opponents Inter.

He told RMC Sport: "Inter are a very big team. As they are not doing well in the league, they will rely heavily on the Champions League."

"They want to go as far as possible. They have many experienced players."

Along with their Coupe de France and Coupe de la Ligue exploits, Marseille are still competing in four different competitions.

However, Ayew said he believes his side can cope with their demanding fixture schedule and continue to fight for multiple honours.

"We are ambitious players. We want to go as far as possible in all competitions. Marseille has a large workforce," he said.

Marseille qualified in second position from Group F, one point behind Arsenal.

Ayew hoped that a positive performance could now see them advance to the quarter-final stage.

"We must remain dynamic and have a lot of determination. It will be a very complicated game," he said.

Article

Champions League preview: Marseille v Inter

21 February 2012 09:01

Claudio Ranieri will be praying his Inter Milan team rediscover their winning touch away to Marseille in the Champions League round of 16.

Ranieri guided Inter to an eight-match winning streak during December and January, but their form has since deserted them and they have now lost five of their past six matches in all competitions.

The slump has left Inter seventh in Serie A, 14 points back from league leaders AC Milan and six points outside the Champions League qualification places.

With the prospect of Inter failing to secure a spot in next season's tournament increasingly likely, it will be up to Ranieri and his players to prolong this campaign for as long as possible.

It remains to be seen if they will be able to do so, with the surviving members of Inter's 2009/10 treble-winning team seemingly unable to reproduce their form of two years ago.

Chief among the out-of-sorts stars contributing to Inter's slump is Netherlands international Wesley Sneijder.

The playmaker was heavily linked with a move to Manchester United in the off-season, and although he ultimately remained with Inter, Sneijder has struggled to match his output of previous campaigns.

The 27-year-old was sidelined with injury from November to January, and in his absence Ranieri adopted a new formation, one which Sneijder has thus far failed to adapt to.

On Wednesday Inter are likely to be greeted by a typically hostile atmosphere at the Stade Velodrome, where Marseille's fanatical supporters will demand nothing less than a victory on home soil.

After a slow start to the Ligue 1 season, Marseille coach Didier Deschamps has dragged his team to fourth place on the table.

A distant 12 points back from league leaders Paris Saint-German, Marseille are unlikely to regain the title they surrendered last season.

But with just three points separating them from third-placed Lille, Champions League qualification remains a realistic ambition.

If either of Wednesday's protagonists can extend their participation beyond the last 16, the latter stages of this competition will be familiar territory to the respective coaches.

They squared off in the 2003/04 semi-finals, when Deschamps, then in charge of Monaco, inflicted a 5-3 aggregate defeat on Ranieri's Chelsea team.

That loss effectively cost the Italian his job, with Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich bringing in Jose Mourinho as his replacement.

Both men have since enjoyed spells in charge of Juventus, but 1998 World Cup winner Deschamps is now back in his native France.

Deschamps will be looking to take Marseille one step further than last season, when his side exited the round of 16 at the hands of Manchester United.

Article

Deschamps plays down Ranieri rivalry

21 February 2012 07:56

Marseille boss Didier Deschamps has dismissed suggestions Inter counterpart Claudio Ranieri will be gunning for revenge on Wednesday night.

Deschamps was in charge of the Monaco side that sensationally dumped a Ranieri-led Chelsea out of the Champions League at the semi-final stage in 2004.

That defeat cemented Ranieri's reputation as 'The Tinkerman' and also played an integral role in his subsequent dismissal.

However, Deschamps does not believe that his Italian adversary will be thinking of past battles when the Nerazzurri take to the field at the Stade Velodrome for the first leg of their last-16 tie on Wednesday.

"I don't think there's such a thing as revenge in football," the former Juventus coach said on UEFA.com.

"There's history - what happened, happened, and it went well for me, and less well for him - and now it's a new chapter."

"I think from my side, and from his too, there's lots of respect, but it's not Ranieri versus Deschamps. It's really about Marseille against Inter."

With Inter currently struggling in Serie A, Ranieri has more important things to be worrying about at the moment.

However, despite Inter's poor form of late, Deschamps still believes that the 2010 Champions League winners remain a formidable opposition.

"We're not in the same category as them, but we still have a chance to qualify," he said.

"Inter are one of the seven or eight big European clubs whose objective is to be European champions."

"Our aim was to get to the last 16 in the winter, and then if we got further, we'd have exceeded our ambitions."

Marseille, who are currently fourth in Ligue 1, will travel to San Siro for the second leg on March 13.

Ligue 1 table

# Team MP D P
13 2 -1 3
14 2 +0 2
15 2 -2 1
16 2 -2 1
17 2 -2 1

Serie A table

# Team MP D P
7 0 +0 0
8 0 +0 0
9 0 +0 0
10 0 +0 0
11 0 +0 0