MILAN - Inter Milan coach Jose Mourinho has dropped winger Ricardo Quaresma and striker Mario Balotelli from his squad to face Napoli on Sunday because of their poor form. Mourinho slammed his players after Inter lost 1-0 at home to Panathinaikos on Wednesday but still progressed to the Champions League last 16. The outspoken Portuguese singled out his compatriot Quaresma for special criticism after the defeat and has now dropped the player, who signed from Porto for 18.6 million euros ($24 million) in the transfer window. Italy under-21 forward Balotelli has also been axed for the home game between the Serie A leaders and fourth-placed Napoli. "They have been dropped because during the week they didn't work hard enough," Mourinho told a news conference on Saturday. Marco Materazzi was also left out of the squad with Mourinho favouring a centre back partnership of Walter Samuel and Ivan Cordoba with the adaptable Nicolas Burdisso on the bench. Mourinho was so angry with Wednesday's display, which came after an impressive 1-0 league win over Juventus, that he is now reviewing his decision to rest top striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic for their final Group B match at Werder Bremen on. Dec 9. "Now everything is up for discussion and I don't want to go into the last 16 with eight points having lost in Germany. I want Inter to beat Werder and my team must also have this mentality," he said. "Then again the issue with first or second place is relative. You finish second and get Barcelona or Manchester, or finish first and draw Real or Chelsea. It doesn't alter much." Mourinho left out Brazil forward Adriano for five matches earlier in the season for breaches of discipline.
29 November 2008
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