PREVIEW- Inter and Valencia wary of each other
MILAN, Feb 20 (Reuters) - Inter Milan and Valencia go into their Champions League last 16 tie buoyed by outstanding domestic league form in recent months although neither side will be taking anything for granted on Wednesday.
Inter have won their last 16 Serie A matches -- a record winning sequence in Europe's big four leagues of England, Germany, Spain and Italy -- but coach Roberto Mancini chose his words carefully as they prepared for the first leg.
"The Champions League is a strange competition. You can be having an extraordinary season and then, because of one off night, you risk ruining everything," he was quoted as saying in La Gazzetta dello Sport.
Mancini's caution was justified. His team last suffered a defeat when they went down 2-0 to Bayern Munich in the group stage of the competition in September.
Inter's dominance of Serie A has allowed him to rest several key players in preparation for playing the Spanish side.
Defenders Marco Materazzi and Douglas Maicon stayed on the bench during Saturday's 1-0 home win over Cagliari, while Brazilian striker Adriano should be fresh to face Valencia after playing only the final 30 minutes.
The expected return of midfielder Patrick Vieira from a foot injury will push Dejan Stankovic forward into the playmaker's role behind Adriano and Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Valencia eased into the last 16 of the Champions League as group winners ahead of AS Roma, and look to have hit form once again on the eve of the first knockout round.
Quique Sanchez Flores's side have won eight of their last 10 league games, culminating in an authoritative 2-1 win at home to Barcelona at the weekend.
Valencia were thrashed 5-1 by Inter when they met at the Mestalla in the group stage in 2004 and the Italians knocked them out of Europe in each of the two seasons before that.
But Sanchez Flores is confident his side will pose the Italians more problems than they have encountered on the domestic front.
"I've said before that Inter are a great team, but Valencia are not like the sort of teams they have been playing in their league," he said after the win over Barcelona.
Valencia midfielder Carlos Marchena told reporters: "We have to take a humble approach as we are facing one of the top teams in Europe and they are carrying everything before them in Italy.
"We both play a similar style of football and we will have to plan the game carefully. We know they have a great team and we will have to play a near perfect match to beat them."
Goalkeeper Santiago Canizares will be available after missing the Barca match because of 'flu and is likely to play despite Ludovic Butelle's impressive performance as stand-in.
13-Douglas Maicon, 2-Ivan Cordoba, 23-Marco Materazzi, 4-Javier Zanetti; 14-Patrick Vieira, 15-Olivier Dacourt, 19-Esteban Cambiasso;
10-Adriano, 8-Zlatan Ibrahimovic
2-Miguel, 4-Roberto Ayala, 20-Raul Albiol, 24-Emiliano Moretti;
10-Miguel Angel Angulo, 6-David Albelda, 5-Carlos Marchena, 21-David Silva; 7-David Villa, 9-Fernando Morientes
Referee: Martin Hansson (Sweden)
Nice preview, but personally I think both those formations are wrong. Unless, Mancini is worried and has put Dacourt in midfield as a more defensive player and Javier at RB to hold the attack down the wings as he is more reliable then Maxwell defensively. Hopefully this prediction is wrong and we play our usual formation..