Football: FIGO: OUR RESERVES CAN BEAT RANGERS.
LUIS FIGO reckons Inter Milan have enough class in their ranks to field a reserve team and still wreck Rangers' Champions League dream at Ibrox tonight.
The midfielder is convinced a second-string side will prevent Alex McLeish from becoming the first manager to take a Scottish club into the knockout stages of the competition.Coach Roberto Mancini will take the opportunity to rest a number of key personnel in Glasgow ahead of the weekend derby with AC Milan.
Brazilian superstar Adriano, who netted the winner in the 1-0 win over Ascoli on Saturday, and Uruguayan midfielder Alvaro Recoba are unlikely to feature but Figo, who did not travel to Glasgow with the squad, insists the rest of Mancini's multi-million pound stars owe Artmedia and Porto, who can both still qualify from Group H, a performance.
He said: "I still believe we will begin the game with a strong side full of senior players but the coach may give some time on the pitch to other players too.
"If our great stars don't play a full 90 minutes that doesn't mean it will be easy for Rangers.
"Inter Milan have a huge, powerful squad and we have more than enough quality to win in Glasgow without a full- strength team.
"This is the Champions League after all and with so many people watching us from all around the world we will definitely give it all we've got"We may have qualified comfortably for the next stage but this hasn't been an easy group. In this competition every opponent is difficult.
"If Inter ever went into a game believing we would win it easily we would lose.Take Manchester United for example, they might have thought Villarreal were an easy team but the results they've had against them have shown the opposite.
"There is no danger at all of Inter not doing our best to win this game. No match is ever irrelevant.
"Artmedia and Porto have nothing to worry about. I can assure them Inter will approach the game just as we have done all the other Champions League matches.
"There is only one point between Artmedia and Rangers so we owe it to everyone to give 120 per cent. It is fair and right that we try our best to win."
Having already clinched top spot in the section there is no pressure on Inter to perform this evening.
But Figo feels that might bring the best out of the group leaders, who have no intention of giving Ibrox boss McLeish an easy ride.
The Portuguese international added:"The fact we're not under pressure to win may even help us play better and give us a better chance of victory.
"When we played Rangers at the San Siro I was impressed by them. Rangers are just like an English team, they are very strong.
"They are not a comfortable team to face and are the sort of side that can surprise you if you don't work very hard at the start of a match. The fact they beat Porto at home and drew away shows they have capabilities.
"I am aware the manager is under pressure for his job at the moment but we cannot afford to show any sympathy.
"Only the directors and supporters of Rangers know what they want to happen with their manager. All I can say is Alex McLeish will be a hero if Rangers beat us. In 90 minutes his life could change for the better."
Heroes have been short on the ground over the past three months for Rangers although Figo is worried an unlikely idol could emerge this evening in the absence of the injured Nacho Novo.
He added: "From what I have seen Rangers have missed Nacho Novo a great deal.
"Without him, the player that has impressed me most is Hamed Namouchi. He looks very strong and very quick
SECONDS BEST: Figo fears worst for Gers tonight
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|Publication:||Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)|
|Date:||Dec 6, 2005|
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