Leonardo optimistic ahead of Bayern battle

Inter coach Leonardo is refusing to contemplate the prospect of elimination ahead of the Champions League second leg against Bayern Munich.

Bayern host Inter in the return leg on Wednesday, in a rematch of last year’s final that saw the Italians, then coached by Jose Mourinho, end their four-decade long European trophy drought.

Louis van Gaal’s side, who ended their domestic slump on the weekend by thrashing Hamburg 6-0, have the upper hand over the Italians thanks to Mario Gomez’s late goal at San Siro which gifted the Bavarians a vital 1-0 result.

But despite the deficit, Leonardo has remained confident ahead of their meeting with the German champions.

“I am not thinking about elimination, but you cannot promise anything in football,” the Brazilian said. “We will play with great optimism, knowing our strengths.”

“There is a great will because these games are finals which always stay inside you, and playing them is always a privilege.”

“To win it will be extraordinary.”

Leonardo said his side, who were frustrated at Brescia on the weekend, would take the occasion into their stride.

“Now is the time, and the players know it,” the 1994 World Cup medallist said. “It will be a great battle, and we will do everything to go through.”

“The players know these games are historic encounters and they are breathing the atmosphere.”

The former Milan coach, who never tasted European glory as a player, is adamant Inter can turn things around in Bavaria, claiming he expects his side to overturn the deficit and reach the quarter finals.

“The first leg could have been different in terms of the result, and so there will be no surprise if we win.”

“I am optimistic and I think we start off on the same level as them. I know the strengths of this group, and the spirit is a good one.”