DÜSSELDORF - Inter vs. Bayer Leverkusen is right around the corner, with our Europa League quarter-final set to kick-off at 21:00 CEST on Monday 10 August at the Düsseldorf Arena. Samir Handanovic, Nerazzurri captain and number 1, answered questions from journalists ahead of the game with a place in the semi-finals at stake.
Ahead of Getafe you spoke about ‘gamesmanship’. Despite 20 minutes of initial difficulty, you then came out on top. What did you like about the team’s performance?
“I liked the fact that we kept a clean sheet: that’s a fundamental aspect and not conceding is always a good starting point. We always remained compact against the Spaniards: they pressed for 20-25 minutes but we managed to hold things together well.”
Inter have found a real balance in defence of late, now on a run of five consecutive clean sheets: what’s changed?
“Every game without conceding helps build your self-esteem and confidence, it fires you up and helps you become stronger. It depends on teamwork, on how you set up on the pitch. But it also depends on individual moments: in other games we’ve done just as well but we’ve conceded with their first shot on target. In football moments count.”
What sort of a game will it be against Bayer Leverkusen?
“Leverkusen are a young side with a lot of quality, they’ve shown their worth in the Bundesliga. I think we’ll see an open game where both sides are fighting for the win. They create a lot and they’re full of quality and pace up top, but they do leave gaps in behind.”
From aiming to reach the semis and the desire to lift the trophy: how are you approaching the match?
“We’re all missing the feeling of lifting a trophy, we’re here to give our all and get as far as possible. Everyone dreams of victory but first you need to get through the game ahead of you. The semi-final means everything to us, it’s an important test. Every game from here on out will be the most important so far. We’re ready and we can’t wait to take to the pitch against Leverkusen. Favourites? There aren’t any.”