Little peace and quiet in store for Leonardo

MILAN - Inter Milan coach Leonardo suggested his players needed rest and some quiet but that is the last thing he and his team are likely to be afforded after a second three-goal defeat at the San Siro in four days.

The Brazilian's tactical failings were exposed again as his team collapsed to a 5-2 defeat at home to Schalke 04 in Tuesday's Champions League quarter-final, just as they were in the 3-0 Serie A defeat to neighbours AC Milan four days earlier.

"The first thing we need is to rest our heads," said Leonardo, looking surprisingly relaxed after the game. "We have a very mature squad and we need calm and rest. we need to use our energy on the pitch."

With Lucio suspended, Leonardo repeated Saturday's makeshift central defensive partnership of Andrea Ranocchia and Cristian Chivu, with equally disastrous results.

Left helpless by a lack of defensive cover, Ranocchia scored an own goal and the hapless Chivu was sent off for the second game running.

Inter looked capable of scoring with every attack but looked in even more danger of conceding a goal when their opponents swept forward.

Such gung-ho excitement would have been unthinkable under the revered Jose Mourinho, who led Inter to a Champions League, Serie A and cup treble last season.

Last season, Inter beat Chelsea 3-1 on aggregate in the last 16 and overcame CSKA Moscow 2-0 in the quarter-finals, the four games producing fewer goals than Tuesday's extravaganza which Schalke coach Ralf Rangnick said could have ended 10-5.

It sparked criticism from Gazzetta della Sport, coming after the previous round's 3-3 aggregate draw with Bayern Munich when a last minute away goal sent Inter through.

"The sink or swim philosophy which saved the title defence in Munich has this time mis-fired," said Gazzetta, harking back to the days of 'Special One' Mourinho.

"The fact is that the midfield gave their opponents too much room to play in, something that would never have happened in Mourhino's days.

"Mourinho always said that the Champions League is a question of details. The impression is that not enough attention has been paid to them in the absence of the Portuguese guru."

After falling five points behind Milan with seven games left in Serie A, the talk had before the match before the match had been of concentrating on defending their Champions League title.

Now, the Serie A looks a more realistic target than winning the second leg in Gelsenkirchen 4-0 or 6-3.

"I don't like to make excuses," said Leonardo. "All is not lost, we are five points behind and we have seven games left.

"We have to change this situation. We lost two important games but we must stay together and try to forget these heavy defeats."

The coach, who helped Inter cut the gap between themselves and AC Milan from 13 points after replacing Rafael Benitez, was given support by club president Massimo Moratti - for the time being at least.

"We have to stay calm," said Inter captain Javier Zanetti, echoing Leonardo's sentiments.

"Calm so that we can understand what the problems were and then start again, as we have many times in the past. We'll do it again this time.

"We certainly aren't going to throw away the good things we've done so far because of these two defeats. "Together we'll look forward."


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