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Forza Inter, Forza Italia

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Champions League, Round of 16
Who: Inter Milan vs. Liverpool
When: Tuesday, February 19th 2:30 pm ET
Where: Anfield

4689296.jpg I've had dreams about this game. Crazy, I know. (Not much different than the rest of you, I presume.) And I pictured it in my mind, The Matrix going in cleats up on Torres, violently ripping off his leg. As the ball pops loose, Max takes it up the wing, crosses it to Zlatan, who one times it past Reina. Awesome, I know. However, I must wake up from this dream, because, most likely, this isn't going to happen. And I suggest the rest of you to do the same.

The last time the Nerazzurri played Liverpool in a competitive match, was in the Champions League in 1965. A time when players like Giacinto Facchetti, Sandro Mazzola, Luis Suarez and Mario Corso were sporting the black and blue. Inter eventually won, 4-3 on aggregate. They look to do the same this year.

Currently, both teams are on the opposite sides of the spectrum. Liverpool are in 5th, 3 points behind fourth place Everton, and the last CL spot. Their most recent loss, to division 2 side Barnsley in the F.A. Cup, was the low point of the season for Liverpool. Inter, on the other hand, come into this game with yet another win behind them, and having lost only one game the whole year (a 1-0 loss to Fenerbahce in their first group stage game), are obviously the favorites. However, as I have said before, Liverpool are the English version of Milan. They just simply can't play in domestic games, but when they head into European competition, they are a true danger. They are last years runners-up, and should not be taken lightly. Not that I expect any of the Nerazzurri to do so.

Positional Standings:

Inter are in 1st with 59 points, 11 points clear of 2nd place Roma.
Liverpool are in 5th with 44 points, 3 points behind 3rd place Everton.

Injuries:

Inter: As reported yesterday, Jimmy will not be traveling to Anfield. Olivier Dacourt, Walter Samuel, and Aparecido Cesar are also on the list.

Liverpool: Daniel Agger and Andriy Voronin seem to be the only one's who will be missing this match.

Probable Lineups:

Inter:
JC;
Maicon,Cordoba,Materazzi,Maxwell;
Il Capitano,Cambiasso,Chivu(maybe Maniche),Stankovic;
TSB, Zlatan

Liverpool:
Reina;
Finnan,Carragher,Hyypia,Riise;
Benayoun,Gerrard,Mascherano,Kewell;
Kuyt,Torres

Players To Keep An Eye On:

Fernando Torres: At £20.5 million, Torres was Liverpool's record signing. He has 18 goals in 29 appearances with Liverpool. And 109 goals in 272 total appearances. Basically, what I'm trying to say is, this guy is dangerous. He's ice in front of goal, and his speed is tremendous. Luckily we got our own speedster. Cordoba.

Zlatan Ibrahimović: With 5 goals in CL games, he is tied for the lead with C-Ron. Him and his partner in crime, TSB, rested against Livorno, and should be ready to strike. Liverpool's defense is suspect at best, so I think these two may have some fun.

Esteban Cambiasso: He's been the most underrated player on Inter this year, along with JC. His complete domination of the midfield and terrific distribution, have lightened the load for everyone else. He was great AGAIN against Livorno, and I think it's his time to show his talent on an International stage.

Steven Gerrard: You can't talk about Liverpool without mentioning this guy. His grit and determination have made him an Anfield legend. Oh, and he can play some damn good footy.

Key Matchups:

Inter vs. Anfield: As TSB said yesterday in an interview with Sky Italia, the biggest danger will be the fans. Simple put, there will be a lot of drunken English people there tomorrow, not rooting for Inter. Not only will communication be a problem, but the fans generally effect the mentality of both teams. However, I think that Inter are experienced enough to not let this bother them too much.

Your Middle vs. Our Middle: Depending who plays alongside Cambiasso, (I'm guessing Chivu or Maniche) it should be an intriguing battle. Gerrard and Mascherano vs. Cambiasso and Chivu/Maniche. Nice. This is going to be a big key to winning, controlling the middle of the field.

Strikers vs. Defenders: They have Torres and Kuyt, we have TSB and Zlatan. I think we can matchup with their guys, but I don't think they will be able to matchup with ours.

Prediction:

I feel that there are two keys to victory. Controlling the midfield, and controlling Torres. If you take away those two factors, Liverpool are basically left with nothing. If Chivu does start, he'll need to have a huge day, unlike his game against Catania. We know Cambiasso can hold Gerrard, but can Chivu hold Mascherano? If he does, we'll be in good shape.

As for Torres, he'll give us a bit of trouble, but I think we'll be able to contain him. His speed scares me, but Cordoba can match him step for step. On the other side, I don't think Liverpool can stop TSB or Zlatan. I don't watch the Premiership extensively, but I do watch it enough to know that I was never fond of Liverpool's D.

All in all, I think it'll be a good match. A boring chess game at times (as a matchup of two big clubs always is), but I think the atmosphere of Anfield will prompt some action. Now remember, control the midfield (the middle, mainly) and control Torres, and I feel we can overcome both Liverpool and Anfield.

Deep down inside I was feeling a 1-1 draw. However, when I woke up this morning I had a change of heart. Inter win, 1-0.

P.S.- As my title may elude, I will be rooting for all Italian teams. Until we play one of you bastards. Of Course.