Zlatan: Inter mentality will halt holders

Inter Milan forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic believes his side can eliminate holders Manchester United from the Champions League as the Italians, under Jose Mourinho, have the right winning mentality. The Premier League and Serie A leaders go head-to-head at the San Siro on Tuesday night in their first-leg encounter, with many believing Mourinho’s chances of progression hinge on the performances of hot-and-cold Swedish marksman Ibrahimovic.

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The mercurial Swede has netted 14 times domestically so far this season, but has yet to score in 12 Champions League knockout games, making him even more determined to break his duck against the reigning English, European and World champions.

“If you ask me what I want to win this season, I wouldn’t have any doubt: the Champions League,” Ibrahimovic says in the March issue of FourFourTwo magazine, in shops now.

“I have already won four Scudetti titles in a row [although the first two at Juventus were later stripped] but I haven’t done anything important in Europe.”

Although both United, seven points clear at the top in England, and Inter, nine ahead in Italy, are cruising domestically, their respective paths to the first knockout round have been far from as emphatic.

Inter failed to win any of their final three group matches, losing to Werder Bremen and Panathinaikos and drawing against Cypriot minnows Anorthosis Famagusta.

While Sir Alex Ferguson’s side avoided defeat in their six-game group campaign, but only triumphed twice, drawing the other four matches.

However, Ibrahimovic remains unfazed by United’s seemingly impregnability this season.

“With the respect to all our opponents, it wouldn’t matter to me if we had to play Manchester United or Barcelona in the next stage,” he says.

“When you want to win an important competition like the Champions League, you have to beat all the top teams.

“Sooner or later you have to face all the big teams and for us, playing United should be an extra motivation.

“They have a great coach, some fantastic players and I like the idea of playing at Old Trafford. I’m looking forward to the games.

“Inter Milan are more consistent now, and we win even when we don’t play our best.

“We have the right winning mentality and that is perfect if you want to beat a team like United. We’re in a very good physical and mental condition.”

The March issue of FourFourTwo magazine is available now, featuring more interviews with Champions League dangermen from Roma, Juventus and Real Madrid.

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