Champions League

Zlatan: I feel emotional

2009-09-15 20:08
Emotional (AFP)

Milan -  Barcelona striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic has calmed an escalating war of words with former club Inter Milan ahead of Wednesday's Champions League at the San Siro.

When Barcelona was paired with Inter in Group F, the focus turned to Ibrahimovic and Samuel Eto'o, who swapped clubs in the offseason with Inter getting an additional $93.5m.

Recently, the Swede claimed that Inter only won its three most recent Serie A titles because of him, while Inter coach Jose Mourinho hit back by saying that he got the better part of the deal.

On the eve of the match, though, Ibrahimovic said how much he is looking forward to his return to the San Siro.

"It will be a touching moment to go back," Ibrahimovic said on Tuesday. "I feel very emotional about returning. I spent three seasons with Inter and I am delighted to have another chance to play in their stadium.

"It will not be easy, especially as they have strengthened this season and will make things hard for us."

Under Mourinho, Ibrahimovic scored 25 goals last season and was the league's leading scorer. For Barcelona, the striker has scored twice in two league games.

Mourinho, meanwhile, has played down the importance of meeting the defending champions and one of his former clubs.

"It is only a group match, there's not the tension you get in the knockout stages," he said. "Barcelona is only a team and tomorrow is only a match. If we stay level at the start we can then push on for a win.

"We have five new starting players and we're playing with a new philosophy and trying to adapt to the Italian league and the Champions League, where we want to be more successful than in recent years."

While losing Ibrahimovic was a blow to Inter's prestige, the money received allowed Mourinho to strengthen his squad's depth.

"The exchange was important because the money allowed us to buy Thiago Motta, Diego Milito, Wesley Sneijder and Lucio," Mourinho said. "I lost one great player and gained another and we have reconstructed the squad.

"We need a little more time to get used to each other, but we are under pressure like I've never seen before to win the Champions League."

Eto'o has made an excellent start as Ibrahimovic's replacement at Inter, scoring twice and linking up well with Milito, who has also scored two goals.

The run continues Eto'o's excellent form from his days at Barcelona, where he scored 35 times, including the opener in the Champions League final.

"I didn't dream about meeting Barcelona, however, it is a pleasure to play against them and to be able to return to the Camp Nou, which is a home to me," Eto'o said. "Barcelona is the best team in the world and we have a slight chance of beating them. We can do it and we have a chance of winning."

In the other Group F match, Dynamo Kiev hosts Russian champion Rubin Kazan.

Andriy Shevchenko, who scored the winning penalty for AC Milan in the 2003 final, will play his first match for Dynamo since leading the team to the 1999 Champions League semi-finals.


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