Milito: We must show Bayern respect
Inter Milan's 2010 Champions League final hero Diego Milito has urged his team-mates not to underestimate Bayern Munich ahead of their rematch with the German side on Wednesday.
Milito, 31, netted both goals as Inter beat Bayern 2-0 at the Bernabeu last May to end their 45-year wait for European football's biggest prize.
The Argentina striker's performances at home and abroad last season earned him plenty of plaudits and he was crowned UEFA Club Footballer of the Year for his role in Inter's Treble success.
On Wednesday, his Inter side take on Bayern again in the Champions League last-16 at the San Siro, but he will play no part as an injury-ravaged season continues to take its toll.
Despite his absence, Milito believes the Nerazzurri have what it takes to beat Louis van Gaal's side again, though he warned that a talented Bayern team must not be taken lightly.
"Leonardo has given us the consciousness to be a strong group and I believe that this has been fundamental," Milito said. "The team is solid right now. Winning the Club World Cup has given us a special boost.
Inter captain Javier Zanetti echoed his team-mate's warning, but insisted that while they are expecting a difficult test at the San Siro, they are confident of emerging from the tie victorious.
"They are different from the team we played in May and it will be a different game from the Champions League final, but we're in great shape, just as we were back then," Zanetti said. "Bayern are a good team, but we must try to play our game and win. Play with our heads and stay tight to hit them on the break.
"It's a shame Diego isn't here, but we have to focus on our football all the same and achieve a positive result over 180 minutes. We must be careful not to leave Bayern too much space, but we are ready. We're aware of our strength. This is the Champions League: We want to keep going."
Leonardo stressed that the last-16 clash will be a totally different affair to last season's final at the Bernabeu and said he is confident that his Inter side will play like champions.
"I saw the game in Madrid," Leonardo said. "I supported Inter. I supported the Italian team. I felt satisfaction on seeing Inter win. Inter and Bayern are teams who have the resources to face any given moment and face each other as equals.
"It's obvious that the players who are in the best condition will go out on the pitch. Serie A is one thing, the Champions League another thing entirely. We have alternatives. Less with respect to Serie A, but we do have them.
"The behaviour of this team will be that of a champion. This team are the holders. We can fight with anyone. We'll fight with all our strength.
"This team has the ability to face real difficulties and this makes me feel strong. It's a moment completely different to last year's Final and every game has its own story."