Madrid, Inter look to find cutting edge in Europe

Defending champion Inter Milan and nine-time titleholder Real Madrid will look to rediscover their cutting edge up front when they renew their Champions League campaigns this week.

Inter, which drew its opening Group A match 2-2 with FC Twente and next plays Werder Bremen, relinquished its sole lead in the Italian league at the weekend when it lost 1-0 to AS Roma for its first Serie A defeat.

Madrid, meanwhile, was held to a goalless draw at Levante on Saturday and will expect more when it travels to Auxerre for its second Group G match this season as coach Jose Mourinho continues his bid for Champions League success with a third team.

Inter coach Rafa Benitez’s mood will not be helped by the potential loss of striker Diego Milito, who is doubtful for the Bremen match after injuring his thigh against Roma.

"We need to be strong in the final third," said the former Liverpool manager. "We had 15 shots on goal (against Roma) and couldn’t take any of them and that is a problem for us.

"We need to find the right balance. We have to analyze why we didn’t score."

Inter striker Samuel Eto’o, who is joint top of the Serie A goalscorer standings with five goals, scored the team’s equalizer at Twente as the reigning champions earned a point from what proved to be a tough opener against the tournament newcomers.

Bremen also opened up with a 2-2 draw against English side Tottenham, which is at home to Twente on Wednesday.

Madrid remains unbeaten in the Spanish league and kicked off its European campaign by beating Ajax 2-0.

But Mourinho, who guided Inter to Champions League glory last season, is worried about his side’s goalscoring issues which he believes has cost it four points in two domestic matches.

"I am obviously concerned because we need to score," said Mourinho. "We are a solid team in defense. We have only allowed one goal in six official games – five in La Liga and one in the Champions League – and our tactics aren’t the problem, but we aren’t scoring."

Kaka is still out with a knee injury but Madrid team doctor Carlos Diez said the Brazil attacking midfielder, who hasn’t played since the World Cup, was making good progress.

"He is almost free of symptoms at the moment," said Diez.

In the group’s other match, AC Milan and Ajax – who have won 11 European Cups between them – meet at the Amsterdam ArenA.

Milan ended a three-match winless run in Serie A by edging Genoa 1-0 on Saturday to give the players a welcome morale boost.

"We will go to Amsterdam with renewed determination," Milan left back Luca Antonini said. "It was fundamental that we got the three points (against Genoa), above all from a psychological point of view with the match against Ajax coming up."

Barcelona, which began Group D with a 5-1 thrashing of Panathinaikos, travels Wednesday to Rubin Kazan, who beat the Spanish champion 2-1 at the Nou Camp in last year’s tournament

Barca come into the match on the back of a 3-1 win at Athletic Bilbao – its third successive victory in La Liga.

"Against Panathinaikos and Atletico Madrid, we were in good form and we did not do so well against Sporting Gijon (which Barcelona scraped past 1-0 at home). The team is fine and we are competing well."

Lionel Messi is again missing for Guardiola, who is also without Brazil defender Adriano (muscle strain).

Panathinaikos hosts FC Copenhagen in the other match.

Elsewhere Wednesday, Valencia hosts Manchester United and Bursaspor goes to Rangers in Group C, while Group B play sees Hapoel Tel Aviv hosts Lyon and Schalke is at home to Benfica.

On Tuesday, Chelsea hosts Marseille as it looks to follow up an opening Group F win at Zilina, which visits Spartak Moscow, and Arsenal travels to Partizan Belgrade and Braga hosts Shakhtar Donetsk in Group H.

In Group E, Basle is home to Bayern Munich and Roma hosts Cluj.