APPIANO GENTILE – After the 0-0 stalemate in the first leg, Inter are once again set to take on Milan in the second leg of the Coppa Italia semi-finals at 21:00 CEST on Tuesday 19 April. Boss Simone Inzaghi answered a range of questions from journalists on the eve of the showdown at San Siro.
How’s the team doing heading into the game and what sort of match are you expecting?
“The team is full of desire and motivation. We know how important this game is and what it means to the club and the fans. We’re off the back of three wins in a row and we’re preparing well for the match.”
How important is tomorrow’s game in the run-in overall? How key is it to have Lautaro Martinez back among the goals?
“In terms of choices, coaches always have doubts and so many decisions to make on a daily basis. There are two more training sessions before tomorrow’s game and I’ll try to make the right choices for tomorrow, which is so important. It’s a Coppa Italia tie, but then we get straight back to league action. We’re on track to achieve both of our targets. We’re doing very well and mustn’t forget that we also won the Italian Super Cup in January.”
What have you learnt from the meetings with Milan so far? Do you feel Inter are the favourites?
“We’ve had three derbies so far, two in the league and one in the Coppa Italia. We know we have to and want to win tomorrow because we want to reach the final. We know we could’ve got more [from the previous three]. We needed to be sharper to make key moments go our way, as they can be pivotal. It’s such an important game tomorrow because a place in the final is at stake.”
What do you want to see from your team on the pitch tomorrow?
“We know how important away goals could be, so we’ll have to be fully focused at every point in the game, knowing that we’re up against a top side. We’ll need to keep focused for the full 95 minutes and for possible extra time as well.”
What are the difficult aspects of this game?
“There had already been talk about the away-goal rule before the first leg, but it was too late. I think it should’ve been the same as it is in Europe, but once the decision was made, it’s only fair for it to carry on in the same way. We’ll need to be even more focused because as we didn’t score in the first leg, every moment in the game could prove to be decisive.”
You were involved in many derbies in Rome, but it took you less time to win one of them. Is it now the right time to celebrate in Milan as well?
“That’s what we’re all hoping for. We’re playing at home tomorrow in front of our incredible fans, who’ve always pushed us forward. The stadium really helped us against Verona and we’ll know that tomorrow in such an important game with so much at stake.”
Could the fact that Inter are yet to win a derby this season be a source of motivation?
“Certainly. The three derbies have all been different. We played very well in the first two, whereas the two teams cancelled each other out in the last one, knowing that there was a second leg to come and the importance of away goals. That was a very cagey game. The team knows that and we know it’s a wonderful chance for us tomorrow, which we want to grab with both hands.”
After beating Juventus, Inter seem to be back on track. Do you think this derby could have a positive or negative impact on the title race?
“I think it’s crucially important and it’s effectively a final. We’ll then need to do a good job of differentiating between the different competitions. The priority right now lies with the Coppa Italia tie tomorrow and then we’ll focus on Roma. We’ll have three-and-a-half days to prepare for such a key game in our league campaign, but ever since the Spezia game on Sunday, our thoughts and motivation have revolved around tomorrow’s match.”
When Marcelo Brozovic was injured, you tried out a few players in his position. Who do you feel is best placed to fill in for him? Have you discussed that position with the board regarding the future?
“We know how important Brozovic is to our team. He was ruled out for some of the season and it coincided with our least impressive run of form. There were games in which Nicolo Barella, Matias Vecino, Hakan Calhanoglu and Arturo Vidal have played there. We know we have more attack-minded players as our understudies in that position, but they all gave their all when asked to play there. There’s been talk about that with the club and we’ll probably address it, but that’s not important right now as have six key weeks ahead of us and we want to perform as well as we can.”
Could knowing that you have to win play to your advantage?
“We know we don’t have any other options as 0-0 would take us to extra time but if it’s a score draw, we won’t be going to the final, so the team knows we need to play well to win. There’s a long way to go and we’ll need to have the best possible approach. I went through a similar experience during my time at Lazio and I know both physically and mentally, it’ll be a game that takes up so much energy.”
Some people think Edin Dzeko and Lautaro aren’t suited to playing with each other. Do you think it’s a matter of developing their understanding?
“I have five fit strikers at the moment and they all deserve to play, but I have to make decisions. I think they can all play well together. It’s up to me to decide who to start and who to bring on. That’s part of the job.”
In some matches, such as against Spezia and Fiorentina, you changed both forwards at the same time. Are you pleased with your team’s response in the last game? Is that linked to the situation?
“Choosing the forwards depends on the individual game. Dzeko and Joaquin Correa did well initially last time out. The two substitutes did just as well and both scored. There are games in which you have to make different choices. The course that a game takes can also lead you to make certain decisions.”