Deschamps wary of wounded Inter
Marseille coach Didier Deschamps insists that Inter Milan's dreadful recent form will not be a factor when the two sides meet in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League last 16 tie on Wednesday.
Whereas Marseille are unbeaten since 23 November, Inter have not won in six games in all competitions and have slipped to seventh in Serie A after picking up just a single point from their last five league outings. Deschamps, though, knows that their squad has changed little from the one that triumphed in the 2010 Champions League and the Frenchman is expecting Inter's players to demonstrate their true worth at Stade Velodrome.
"I'm convinced that the worth of this team and its players is not that which has been shown in their last four or five league matches," he said. "There are nine players who started the Champions League final a year and a half ago and who are still wearing the shirt. With the importance of this competition, the team will show another face. [Diego] Milito, [Diego] Forlan, [Mauro] Zarate, [Ricardo] Alvarez - these are players capable of making a difference.
"With very little, they're capable of doing real harm to their opponents."
Deschamps is an avowed fan of the Italian game, having spent six years with Juventus - five as a player, one as a coach - and he believes the Italian mentality gives them an edge in pressurised encounters such as Wednesday's game.
"Italian teams have specific qualities," he said at Tuesday's pre-game press conference. "On a tactical level, their teams have a strong culture. They have players who make few or no mistakes and who, when they're playing poorly, keep it simple. Two years ago we played AC Milan [in the 2009-10 Champions League group stage], who weren't playing well. They had two chances and my old friend Pippo Inzaghi scored two goals."
Inter's dramatic slump in form has prompted fans to call for coach Claudio Ranieri to be replaced by Jose Mourinho, who famously led Inter to the treble in 2010 before leaving for Real Madrid.
Deschamps also had the crowd on his back during a start to the season in which OM recorded just one win in their first ten Ligue 1 games, and he expressed sympathy for the man who replaced him at the Juventus helm in 2007.
"It's difficult. I also had that at the start of the season," he said. "When it's a high-profile club, it's even more difficult, but Ranieri has experience of all these situations. In these instances, even if a coach isn't at ease, his job is to make sure it doesn't show and to find solutions to make his team as efficient as possible in attack and defence."
Marseille were eliminated by Manchester United at the same stage of last season's competition and are bidding to reach the quarter-finals for the first time since they won the competition, with Deschamps as captain, in 1993.