Inter Milan coach Leonardo believes Schalke’s indifferent league form will count for little when the teams meet in the Champions League.
Schalke are 11th in the Bundesliga table and have struggled for consistency this season.
But despite their problems in the German top flight, they have reached the final of the DFB Cup at the expense of holders Bayern Munich, while also accounting for Valencia in the Champions League first knockout round.
And Leonardo will not be taking the visitors lightly in Tuesday’s quarter-final first leg at the San Siro, particularly with the European Cup’s all-time leading scorer among their ranks.
“I know Schalke haven’t had many good results in the league, but they have in the Champions League so we must not underestimate them – they did not reach the quarter-finals by being lucky,” Leonardo said.
“Even without several injured players they have done well, finding a good balance on the pitch, as they have shown in the German Cup. They’re having a good spell and morale is high.”
“Raul Gonzalez is symbolic of their good European campaign, he’s always a threat. He’s one of the all-time greats – he chose to leave Madrid for another country and is still dictating things.”
Inter come into the match on the back of a damaging 3-0 defeat against Serie A leaders and local rivals AC Milan on Saturday.
Rather than dwell on a loss that may have cost his team the Scudetto, Leonardo would prefer to draw on the experience of Inter’s come-from-behind 3-2 victory away to Bayern Munich in the Champions League’s Round of 16.
“The way we qualified has brought confidence, proving that we never give up,” he said, referring to the fightback at the Allianz Arena on March 15.
“That’s what we want to keep doing – it doesn’t matter if we lost the derby on Saturday. I respect the criticism I have had since then but the first-minute goal made life complicated.”
“We’re obviously disappointed, but I’m sure my players will react and, yes, I’ve never won a Champions League game at home (as coach) but I’m not dwelling on it.”
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