Simone Inzaghi set Inter a 10-point target for their daunting Champions League group as Hakan Calhanoglu warned of the danger of shipping more gift goals.
A sleepy Inter defensive display saw the Nerazzurri toss away an early lead to lose 3-2 to Milan in Saturday’s Serie A derby, with goalkeeper and captain Samir Handanovic having an off day.
While that is a recent concern, Calhanoglu pointed the finger at costly errors in Champions League games against Real Madrid and Liverpool last season.
A 1-0 group-stage home defeat to eventual champions Madrid was tough to take after Inter missed a host of chances before leaking an 89th-minute Rodrygo goal; then, another dominant display at San Siro against Liverpool in the first knockout round proved worthless as two late goals gave Jurgen Klopp’s team one foot in the quarter-finals.
Inzaghi’s team face Bayern Munich in a tricky opener on Wednesday.
With Barcelona also in Group C and likely whipping boys Viktoria Plzen, the battle for places could be fierce. Only the top two go through to the knockout rounds.
Inter have home advantage for the first meeting with Bayern, and Inzaghi said:
“We have to score 10 points in this group. which is objectively very difficult even compared to last year.
“But we are Inter, and facing Bayern is an opportunity: they are one of the three to four candidates to win the trophy.”
Last season saw Inter scrape together 10 points from their six group games, but the opposition, along with Madrid, was provided by Shakhtar Donetsk and Sheriff.
This time, it looks tougher to plot a route to double figures.
Midfield playmaker Calhanoglu said:
“Last year, we dominated against Real Madrid and Liverpool.
“We had the games in our hands but lost due to small mistakes that changed how they went.
“We need to be more focused and united on the pitch. We’ve analysed our mistakes and are ready.
“We’re in another difficult group this year, but this is what the Champions League is like.
“It’s great to be involved and play against strong sides to see what point we’re at.”
Bayern has drawn consecutive games against Borussia Monchengladbach and Union Berlin in the Bundesliga.
This might be the time to face them, though Bayern has often punished teams in the past who thought that way.
“I have seen Bayern’s last two games.
“In terms of numbers, there has been no competition.
“The opponents have been good at limiting them with continuous aggression.
“Bayern have such intensity and aggressiveness as one of the best European teams.”
Inter and Bayern have met seven times in European competition, winning three apiece, with one draw. Inter got the better of Bayern in the 2010 Champions League final on neutral ground at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Still, the Germans have a 100 per cent winning record in away games in Italy in the rivalry (W3).
Bayern’s Sadio Mane could become the fourth African player to reach 25 goals in the Champions League. He is currently one away, looking to join illustrious companies in Didier Drogba (44), Mohamed Salah (36) and Samuel Eto’o (30).
The former Liverpool forward effectively replaced Robert Lewandowski ahead of the Pole transferring to Barcelona.
Having to face both in the group stage will test Inter’s fragile backline, but Inzaghi is backing his players.
“We met Mane already last year. He is a great player with a crazy intensity,” Inzaghi said. “Lewandowski is another great player. We will meet them both in a month and a half: they are very difficult but stimulating matches.”
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