Europe comes alive on the nights of 8th and 9th December when the UEFA champions league resumes with match day six encounters being played across the continent. Out of the sixteen teams needed to qualify in the first round knock out phase, eight teams have already qualified leaving eight slots up for grabs.
The teams that are yet to qualify know quite well its now or never since match day six marks the end of the group stage. It’s on this fact that the results will ultimately decide which team will have its name among the ones appearing, in the last sixteen.
Among the nerve-racking encounters will be the game between Inter Milan and Rubin Kazan, which will be played on Wednesday at the intimidating San Siro stadium. Both teams have six points but Inter Milan have a better goal difference. If Inter Milan draws with Rubin Kazan they will hope that Dynamo Kiev, who have five points, doesn’t beat Barcelona, who are at the top with eight points. For the Italian champions, hope is the last thing they will want to add, after 90 minutes of play.
Inter Milan coached by the self proclaimed special one, Jose Mourinho, is really under pressure to avoid an early exit. The core reasons as to why the club’s president, Massimo Moratti, parted ways with Roberto Mancini and brought Mourinho, as his replacement in mid 2008, was to make sure the team is able to replicate its domestic dominance in Europe. Although Mourinho has continued with the same success Mancini had in Italy, in Europe the situation hasn’t improved that much.
Mourinho’s first season in Europe with Inter ended in the first knock out round, where Man Utd eliminated them. This season, pressure is really mounting on Mourinho to go at least a step further than last season. A win for the Italians will certainly resurrect the hopes of having better days in Europe while a loss will undeniably put Mourinho’s job up for debate.
After last week’s loss to Juventus, Inter’s biggest assignment this week is to overcome a very trick Russian side. The Russians are in their best form, they have lifted the Russian champions for the second year running and better still, defeated Barcelona at their Camp Nou stadium.
As usual Rubin Kazan will walk in San Siro as the under dogs but Inter Milan can only underrate them at their own peril. When the two met in Russia on match day two, the game ended on a barren draw. Something that can swing the game around is the players match fitness. Rubin Kazan are better fit since the Russian league ended last month while Inter will have had only three days to be fit. Whether its fitness, hope or sheer brilliance that carries the day, the game is indeed a special test for the special one.