CFR Cluj v Inter Milan preview
Inter Milan coach Andrea Stramaccioni concedes his side paid a heavy price for going all out for victory in last week's Europa League last-32 first leg against CFR Cluj.
The Italian side ran out 2-0 winners at the San Siro to establish themselves as favourites to progress to the last 16 ahead of tomorrow's return leg in Romania, but have been left to lick their wounds amid the fallout from the match.
Last week's victory was itself marred by the loss of Inter striker Diego Milito to a season-ending knee injury suffered just 10 minutes into the contest.
The 33-year-old was carried off after twisting his left knee and doctors later diagnosed he had suffered damage to his anterior cruciate ligament, collateral ligaments and knee cap and faced six months on the sidelines.
Milito stands as a symbol of European success for Inter after he famously scored both goals in the club's 2010 Champions League final success over Bayern Munich and his loss is a big blow for Stramaccioni, who needs to get the club's fans back onside.
A 4-1 defeat at Fiorentina on Sunday left Inter with just one win in five in Serie A and saw Stramaccioni's position come under increased scrutiny.
A crucial derby against AC Milan lies in wait this weekend, and Stramaccioni knows he will have a difficult task balancing the lessons of the first leg against the need to progress in Europe.
"We played the first leg against Cluj with the best players and we paid for it somewhat with a drop in our energies against Fiorentina," Stramaccioni told a press conference.
"But our objective is to advance and it won't be easy. Nothing is a given here. Then later we'll start thinking of the derby."
Asked about the increasing pressure on his shoulders, Stramaccioni added: "The good thing and the bad thing when it comes to coaching Inter is the pressure that has been there from day one at this great team.
"At this level if a coach worries about it then he's done for, even before he gets started.
"The pressure is high. We lost on Sunday so it's normal to receive criticism, but I think we'll do well tomorrow and in the derby, and we'll move forward."