Zanetti: "Proud of this Inter"

MADRID – Inter captain Javier Zanetti fielded questions from the press at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu ahead of tomorrow night’s Champions League final against Bayern Munich.

The final is your 700th game for Inter. What’s your secret?
"I am proud to have played so many matches with the same shirt. And to do it in an important match like tomorrow night’s means making history. The secret is lots of hard work and having the faith of all the coaches I have had, training session after training session."

How has Eto’o adapted to the Italian championship. What has impressed you about him?
"It wasn’t easy for Eto’o to adapt. He has been humble and put himself at the service of a group that is still hungry for success. Samuel has been very important for us this year."

Moratti said he hopes Zanetti is the protagonist of the final. Will you score?
"I like what the president said. We have been together for fifteen years, so tomorrow’s match will be very important for us. I’d like to score tomorrow but it doesn’t matter who scores. Our fans have been waiting for this match for many years."

You have played many important games. What’s your feeling ahead of the final?
"It’s a unique feeling. The Champions League is a very prestigious competition. I have had lots of strong emotions this year, and this final will be another one. I have played lots of finals, but this will be a special one."

Were you surprised to be left out of Argentina’s World Cup squad?
"We’re not thinking about Maradona’s selection for the World Cup. We’re only thinking about tomorrow’s great final. I am Argentine so I hope Argentina can do well because they have a good group of players."

After winning the UEFA Cup thirteen years ago, is tomorrow the end of a cycle?
"I don’t want it to be the end of an era tomorrow. I hope I can continue to win a lot."

It’s 45 years since Inter last won this trophy. Is this an extra motivation for you?
"This will certainly give us extra motivation. The Inter fans have been waiting a long time for this match and we will give everything to win it."

How have you prepared for this game?
"With the coach we have studied this match and we go into it in the best possible way. Ribery? He won’t play but we are without Thiago Motta. They are two important players for both teams."


Mourinho: "A contribution to Inter’s joy"

MADRID – After Javier Zanetti, Wesley Sneijder and Esteban Cambiasso, it was José Mourinho’s turn to talk to the press in Friday’s Champions League final press conference.

This is what the Inter coach had to say:

Tomorrow you face your old friend Louis Van Gaal.
"I worked with him for three years. We lived fifty metres apart. I had a special relationship with Van Gaal. It was a pleasure to work with him. From Van Gaal I learnt that you have to work very hard to win. I haven’t forgotten him. He’s a fantastic person. He says we play a defensive game? I don’t think Van Gaal has seen many of our games…"

Are you already feeling the pressure of this game?
"I’ll feel the pressure tomorrow. I know myself. Tomorrow I will wake up and say to myself ‘wow, I’ll be playing the Champions League in a few hours’. The heart beats faster, the body temperature is a bit higher, and then everything ends when we get off the bus and I will enter my natural habitat without pressure. And it will have to be the same for the players."

The rumours about a future at Real Madrid?
"No problem for me. I have already said that when you’re playing a Champions League final, you only think about that. Playing this final is a dream, not an obsession. Tomorrow after the match it’s over for everyone. Holidays at the beach, in the mountains, and then the World Cup, but at the moment everyone is thinking about this game."

Is this your last match as coach of Inter?
"When the match ends tomorrow I can’t say it’s my last for Inter. I will make my decision next week. It’s not easy to leave friends of many battles but you can’t make a decision after a match. In my last match for Porto in the 2004 final I knew that I would be coach of Chelsea. It won’t be the same tomorrow."

This final is the most important match for Inter in the last 45 years. Is it the most important match for José Mourinho also?
"Yes, yes. It’s the next one. The next match is always the most important one for me. This one is the last match of the season and it’s the one that can give us an important trophy. It’s normal to want to win this match. It will be a fantastic match for the fans tomorrow. Many of them have never seen Inter win this competition."

Will Pandev play tomorrow?
"We will play as a team. I’m not thinking about the individual players who will play. And I’m not thinking about who will score and who won’t. If we win, the team wins. If we lose, the team loses. I’m not thinking about individuals."

Will refereeing incidents in past games affect this game?
"Inter reach this final after playing sixty minutes with ten men when we should have had eleven men. What happened in Fiorentina-Bayern or in Manchester-Bayern is not important today. There’s no rule of compensation in football. Refereeing incidents in past games don’t count. Tomorrow Inter want to win, Bayern want to win, and the referees want to win too. This is like the world final so everyone in it wants to do a great job. I trust the referees. This match is more important than the World Cup final."

What do you know about Real Madrid?
"I don’t know anything about Real Madrid, I don’t know their philosophy, I don’t know their projects. I only know their history. And I’m not worried about knowing it today because I have this final to play with Inter. We worked very well today at Real Madrid’s training centre and I thank them for their hospitality."

Is the World Club Championship important for you?
"It’s important for a club, because the club can say it is world champion. But it’s not very important for me. For me, the Champions League final is the El Dorado of football."

President Moratti spoke earlier today about the happiness of being in Madrid.
"President Moratti is a very special person for me. I thank him for bringing me to Inter two years ago. I hope to see him smiling with the trophy tomorrow, crying with joy. I would like to see his photo with the trophy alongside the one of his father in Appiano Gentile."


Moratti: "Pure happiness to be here"

MADRID – The tension is building in Madrid and for Massimo Moratti tomorrow is "the most important day emotionally."

Speaking to journalists during Friday afternoon’s open training session in the Spanish capital, the Inter president compared this year’s Champions League final with the atmosphere that accompanied the Great Inter’s back-to-back European Cup triumphs in 1964 and 1965.

"There’s the same happiness of participating in a beautiful event in this wonderful place," he said. "Objectively speaking, the two strongest teams have reached the final. Both have knocked out important teams, Inter in particular."

Before Inter’s pre-match workout at the Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano, Moratti shook hands with José Mourinho and gave his coach a pat on the back. "It certainly wasn’t a goodbye," said the Inter president. "He always replies with the same professionalism and I am sure he will do well tomorrow."

When asked if Mourinho has already signed for Real Madrid, the Inter patron replied: "No, I really don’t think so."

Moratti is confident in his team’s chances and is hoping the star of the night is captain Javier Zanetti on his 700th appearance for Inter. "He deserves to be the protagonist of the final, for his professionalism and consistency."

With little over twenty-fours to go until kick-off at the Bernabeu, Moratti revealed: "I dreamt we would win in Siena and we did. I haven’t dreamed anything else yet."


UCL final: pre-match training at Estadio Di Stefano

MADRID – Before the eyes of Massimo Moratti, Luis Figo and the Inter management, the Nerazzurri trained at the Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano this afternoon ahead of Saturday night’s Champions League final against Bayern Munich at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu.

On the same pitch that hosted Wednesday’s UEFA Under-18 Challenge between Inter and Bayern’s youth teams, José Mourinho’s players performed a series of warm-up, athletic and possession drills before finishing off with a practice game.

Approximately 200 journalists attended the open training session.


Adil Hamad Al-Ayyar visits Inter in Madrid

MADRID – Adil Hamad Al-Ayyar, formerly the Kuwaiti consul general for Milan and now the Middle Eastern nation’s ambassador to Spain, visited Real Madrid’s Ciudad Deportiva on Friday afternoon to watch the Nerazzurri at work during their final training session before Saturday’s Champions League final.

A great Inter fan and a friend of the Moratti family, Adil Hamad Al-Ayyar has visited Inter’s Centro Sportivo Angelo Moratti training ground on several occasions in the past.