Soccer

Teary-eyed Ranieri seeks more emotion from Inter

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MILAN (AP)

Inter Milan manager Claudio Ranieri was moved to tears when he saw his squad end a nine-match winless streak at the weekend, and he's hoping the emotion carries over for another inspirational victory against Marseille in the Champions League on Tuesday.

Marseille carries a 1-0 first-leg lead to the San Siro but the French club is reeling after slipping to its fourth league defeat in a row without scoring a goal on Friday night, 1-0 away to Ajaccio.

Inter beat Chievo Verona 2-0 Friday with late goals from Walter Samuel and Diego Milito for its first win since defeating Lazio 2-1 on Jan. 22 and Ranieri had tears in his eyes after Milito's strike.

''It shows how much this means to me,'' Ranieri said. ''This win comes just at the right time, it should give us the enthusiasm necessary to turn the result around.''

Inter has endured an up and down season, with Ranieri being drafted in to replace Gian Piero Gasperini in September, and there had been speculation recently that Ranieri could be on his way out, too.

But Inter started its turnaround with two late goals in a 2-2 draw with Catania eight days ago following another show of emotion - a changing-room speech from goalkeeper Julio Cesar at halftime.

''Julio told us that we had to go out and turn the result around, that everyone had to give a little more, because we couldn't allow ourselves another loss at home,'' Milito said. ''And so we showed some courage and pride and we drew.''

While defender Cristian Chivu is suspended, Inter is relatively healthy and Milito will likely partner Giampaolo Pazzini in attack against Marseille, with Diego Forlan providing another option. Playmaker Wesley Sneijder is nearing 100 percent after missing two months with a right leg muscle injury and Samuel and Lucio form a solid pairing in central defense.

Marseille's last goal was Andre Ayew's injury-time winner that decided the first leg at Stade Velodrome. Since then, Marseille has been blanked at home by Toulouse and away by Brest, Evian and Ajaccio. It is Marseille's longest scoreless run since the 2006-07 season.

But coach Didier Deschamps will be boosted by the return of top scorer Loic Remy, winger Mathieu Valbuena, and defensive midfielder Stephane M'Bia.

''It's a good thing for us that they're coming back,'' Deschamps said. ''Even if that doesn't explain our bad results.''

Remy and Valbuena both came on in the second half at Ajaccio, and could both start. Ayew, who has been struggling with repeated dislocations of his left shoulder, is also in line to return after sitting out the Ajaccio game.

Deschamps insists the players will be able to forget their league form.

''It's such a big competition that we won't have any problem being motivated for it,'' he said. ''Even if we have the advantage of one goal, we will be coming up against a team whose whole season depends on this result. We're going to go for it.''

Inter, the 2010 winner, is aiming for its third successive quarterfinal appearance, while Marseille is looking to reach the last eight for the first time since lifting the trophy in 1993.

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AP Sports Writer Jerome Pugmire in Paris contributed to this report.



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