Mourinho: Strong mentality key to success

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ROME - Inter Milan's strong mentality is the reason why they can look forward to ending more than 40 years of hurt in Europe by winning the Champions League title, coach Jose Mourinho said.

Inter set up a meeting with holders Barcelona thanks to a 1-0 win at CSKA Moscow on Tuesday to complete a 2-0 quarter-final aggregate victory that puts them among the continent's four finest for the first time since 2003.

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"It's a total change from Inter's history in the Champions League in recent years," Mourinho, whose men knocked out his former side Chelsea in the last 16, told reporters in Moscow.

"The mentality is right. We are a team with confidence and ability. Anything can happen in the semi-final or final, but next year the first foot Inter will put in this competition will certainly be full of confidence.

"If we don't win this year, Inter will win in a few years time because this is the path."

Mourinho was appointed coach of Inter at the start of last season as a replacement for Roberto Mancini, who was fired after his failure to win the Champions League despite three successive Serie A titles.

Inter have not won the continent's top prize since 1965 when they won the second of their European Cups by beating Benfica.

Mourinho is not the only one who has seen a marked difference from the side that has dominated in Serie A in recent years, but has flopped in Europe.

"They have crushed the ghosts that conditioned their performances up to the group stage," former Italy striker Gianluca Vialli told Sky television.

"Now Inter have great awareness of their ability, home and away, and this is the only mentality you can take in the Champions League."

This season Inter have already met Barcelona twice in the group stage, scraping a goalless draw at the San Siro before being well beaten 2-0 away.

But Mourinho's men said they will not let that affect their confidence.

"We played an ugly match at the Camp Nou," said Serbia midfielder Dejan Stankovic. "But next time everything will be different."

The one thing that might slightly spoil Inter fans enjoyment of their side's new found European stature is Mourinho himself casting doubts about how long he will be around to maintain it.

"I am very happy at Inter but not in Italian football," he said last week. "I don't like it and it doesn't like me, simple."

The Portuguese has been given a series of touchline bans for controversial gestures and outbursts and has stopped speaking to the Italian media before and after league games.

The irony for Inter is that, by becoming the third team Mourinho has taken to the last four after Chelsea (twice) and Porto on the way to victory in 2004, they may also have heightened their continental rivals' desire to lure him away.

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