MILAN (Reuters) – Inter Milan’s hopes of reaching the Champions League round of 16 are in the hands of Barcelona and coach Luciano Spalletti believes the Catalans will not let his team down.
Tottenham Hotspur’s 1-0 win over Inter on Wednesday means they will go through at the expense of the Serie A side if they win their final Group B match away to Barcelona.
Spalletti, whose own team host PSV Eindhoven in the other group match on Dec. 11, said there was no question that Barcelona would give it their all even if they had already qualified.
“They are serious professionals,” he said. “I have no doubts about the way they will approach the match.
“It hasn’t occurred to me that players like Gerard Pique, Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez could take their foot off the pedal or not care about losing at home.”
Spalletti said his decision to substitute midfielder Radja Nainggolan just before halftime was due to an ankle problem.
“Everything is fine with Radja and there was no issue between us at the time of his substitution,” said Spalletti.
“He felt pain in his ankle and he was having some trouble running as his muscle stiffened up, therefore I opted to bring him off just before the interval. We had done all the necessary checks before the game.”
(Writing by Brian Homewood, editing by Nick Mulvenney)