Buoyant Schalke aim to finish off Inter

BERLIN - Schalke 04 will be in buoyant mood when they aim to complete a stunning Champions League upset against holders Inter Milan on Wednesday.

New coach Ralf Rangnick has injected a winning mentality since taking over, masterminding a sensational 5-2 victory in the San Siro and erasing the club's Bundesliga relegation fears with a win against VfL Wolfsburg on Saturday.

"We are leading 5-2 at half-time. Now we have to go out and be equally dominant as in Milan. We will play as if it is 0-0," said Rangnick, who took over late last month after his predecessor Felix Magath had steered Schalke to the last eight.

Inter became the first team defending the European Cup to concede five goals in a match home or away, adding to the pressure on coach Leonardo, the second man in the hot seat since Jose Mourinho after Rafa Benitez's sacking in December.

Schalke have won all three games under Rangnick and the 52-year-old said they could do it again as they attempt to reach their first Champions League semi-final.

"We are very near," he told reporters. "Inter have a great offence but are vulnerable at the back.

"Because Inter will come out attacking we will have spaces. We want to use them."

Defender Benedikt Hoewedes added: "We have taken a lot of confidence with our win against Wolfsburg," after the win against the club managed by former coach Felix Magath.

"Now we have the necessary calm for the game against Inter."

However, he warned that there was still work to do before they could book their place in the semi-final against either Manchester United or Chelsea.

"Inter will most certainly try to reverse the result somehow and their front line is outstanding, that is no secret," said Hoewedes, who is again expected to be partnered in central defence by Joel Matip instead of Christoph Metzelder.

Schalke have now won all three games since Rangnick replaced Magath late last month.

Rangnick will likely use 19-year-old defender Kyriakos Papadopoulos in a holding midfield role just as he has done in the past two matches, while Brazilian Edu, who scored twice in the first leg, should again partner Raul up front.

Inter restored some pride after an awful week by beating Chievo 2-0 in Serie A on Saturday but the holders know they have an almost impossible task in overturning Schalke's first leg advantage when they travel to Gelsenkirchen.

Striker Samuel Eto'o has not given up hope though, according to coach Leonardo.

"Inside I believe that anything is possible," the manager told reporters. "I believe it and the players believe it too. Eto'o perhaps believes it more than anyone.

"He has plenty of comeback tales and he has played a part in lots of them. He told us all about them and they were great to hear."

Leonardo had previously said it was "unrealistic" to expect his side to turn things around but Inter still plan to go and hold their heads up high as they all but certainly wave goodbye to their cherished trophy which took 45 years to regain.

Inter's Argentina defender Walter Samuel has been included in their squad after missing the last five months because of a cruciate ligament injury.

Doctors had expected the centre-back to be out for the season after reconstructive surgery but the 33-year-old, who suffered a similar problem in 2007, has quickly recovered having collapsed to the ground in agony against Brescia in November.

Playmaker Wesley Sneijder was included in the squad despite a bout of flu while Cristian Chivu, sent off in the 3-0 derby loss to AC Milan earlier this month which looks to have cost Inter a sixth consecutive scudetto, is banned following his red card in the first leg but Lucio is available after serving a European suspension.

Probable teams

Schalke 04: 1-Manuel Neuer; 22-Atsuto Uchida, 4-Benedikt Hoewedes, 32-Joel Matip, 2-Hans Sarpei; 18-Jose Jurado, 17-Jefferson Farfan, 14-Kyriakos Papadopoulos, 11-Alexander Baumjohann; 9-Edu, 7-Raul.

Inter Milan: 1-Julio Cesar; 13-Maicon, 6-Lucio, 15-Andrea Ranocchia, 55-Yuto Nagatomo; 4-Javier Zanetti, 8-Thiago Motta, 19-Esteban Cambiasso; 5-Dejan Stankovic; 9-Samuel Eto'o, 22-Diego Milito.


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