APPIANO GENTILE – With Saturday's game against Venezia just over 24 hours away, Andrea Ranocchia sat down with journalists to discuss the game, Inter's season in general and his time at the club.
The veteran centre-back, who joined Inter over a decade ago, was speaking after impressing in back-to-back wins against Napoli and Shakhtar.
You're the only player in the current squad who played the last time Inter were in the Champions League last 16. How does it feel to be back there again?
“It's a great result – one we all really wanted to achieve. We didn't get off to the best of starts in the group but we got ourselves back on track. Venezia is going to be difficult now – it's a tough place to go.”
How are things different to last season under the new coach?
“Things change all the time. The coach has shown he's capable of guiding a squad of fantastic players. I hope we can carry on like this and achieve our targets.”
You've started the last two, very important, matches. What are you most proud about?
“I really enjoyed it and that's what these matches should be about – enjoyment besides the spectacle. I love playing for this team and with these players. It makes me proud of the career path I've taken. It was great to win the last two matches but they're already in the past. We're looking forward.”
Are you ready to play your third straight game?
“It's up to the boss to make that call. I'm ready – I'm always ready. The main thing is we keep doing what we've been doing, and keep helping each other.”
What was the turning point in your time at Inter?
"My approach is different now – the way I approach the day, the match, the build-up. You change and mature with time. The coaches I've had have been very helpful in that regard and my team-mates too. We have a very close-knit group here.”
Is part of your job explaining what Inter is all about to the new arrivals?
“It's not just me, [Samir] Handanovic and [Danilo] D'Ambrosio who do that. Everyone plays their part. When I joined Inter, it was the treble team, teeming with stars. Over the years the younger players are welcomed in and learn from the more experienced lads.”
Do you regret not playing so much in the last few years?
“I don't see that as a problem. In sport you have to be ready when called upon. When I didn't play, it obviously wasn't my time.”
What made it possible to change coach seemingly without much difficulty?
“The group here, first and foremost. We've grown over the years and overcome difficulties along the way. We've lost some important players but the club did a great job of replacing them. It's more about mentality than names. We're on the right path.”
What is it that makes the team spirit so strong at Inter?
“There's no magic formula or particular situation that creates a group like this. It's a process that you go through with ups and downs. When you get bad moments, it all comes down to how you respond, because the way you respond affects the way others respond. We've got where we are thanks to the contribution of some amazing people.”
Which team do you think is your main rival for the title?
“Too many factors come into the equation – you can't single out just one team. The league is very evenly balanced but European games, injuries and other unexpected events can change things.
Have you spoken to Marcelo Brozovic about him signing a new contract?
"No, I haven't. I'm just happy seeing what he does on the pitch – he seems to get better every game!”
Do you think Inter will win the title again?
“That's something you hear others saying, in newspapers and so on. If we do our jobs well, we can go a long way – that much I know.”