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Mourinho plays down Messi threat

Barcelona's Lionel Messi celebrates scoring the opening goal against Real Madrid earlier this month,
Barcelona's Lionel Messi celebrates scoring the opening goal against Real Madrid earlier this month,
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Mourinho plays down threat posed by Barcelona star Messi in Champions League semifinal.
  • Inter take on the defending champions in Milan on Tuesday night.
  • Barcelona arrived in Milan on Monday after a 14-hour journey by road.
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(CNN) -- Inter Milan coach Jose Mourinho has played down the threat posed by Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi as two of European football's giants face off in the Champions League semifinal on Tuesday night.

Messi has been in scintillating form all season, scoring all four goals in Barca's quarterfinal second leg victory over Arsenal.

The Argentine will spearhead the Barcelona attack in the first leg clash at Milan's San Siro stadium, but Mourinho sees the 22-year-old as just one part of a formidable team.

"What we know is that he is an important player but football, for me, is not about marking man to man, Mourniho told reporters at a pre-match press conference in Milan.

"It is not one against Messi and 10 versus 10, it will be 11 v 11, although he deserves special attention."

Mourinho is charged with plotting a path past the reigning European, Spanish and World Club champions who are seeking to become the first team to defend the European Cup since AC Milan in 1990.

Inter drew 0-0 at home with Barca in the group stage of this season's competition and were beaten 2-0 in Spain.

"Barca deserved to win in November," said Mourinho, who worked as a translator at Barcelona in the 1990s before becoming a manager and leading Porto to the Champions League trophy in 2004.

"They are as strong now as they were then, but we are much stronger. I don't mind if the football world considers them favorites, I think we have a 50% chance of playing in the final."

Barcelona arrived in Milan on Monday evening after being forced to travel for 14 hours by road because of the volcanic ash cloud hovering over Europe.

"It is not the ideal situation for us to travel 14 hours by coach after a league game and before a semi-final against Inter, but you cannot stop a volcano, can you?," said Barca coach Josep Guardiola.

"We decided to use two buses to have more space and I didn't travel with the players because I think it's better for them not to always have their coach with them."

Guardiola is wary of the threat posed by a side who knocked out English Premier League leaders Chelsea in the last 16 and have won the Italian league title the last four years.

"They're a very strong team and we'll need to play well twice. We'll play our game and try to score as many goals as possible," he said.

"But we could lose because we're playing against one of the best teams in Europe."