APPIANO GENTILE - With several players out injured and all those who have been away on international duty, José Mourinho has had a reduced squad to work with in the run-up to Sunday evening's clash against Roma.
"I needed to work with Cordoba, Samuel and some of the others who needed to train, but we were without five of the starters to face Roma," admitted Mourinho in an interview for Rai Sport programme Dribbling. "It hasn't been easy but I have to be honest and say that our opponents aren't in a different situation from ours. Like us, they have a lot of national team players who are fundamental for them.
"Our situation in defence is an incredible situation because when I arrived here in Appiano Gentile I found Cordoba and Samuel in the gym after their cruciate ligament operations and I saw Chivu in hospital in Pavia after his shoulder operation, and we couldn't play two consecutive matches with the same central defenders. If you ask me which is the best pairing in central defence I can't reply to you after four months at Inter.
"Samuel has only just returned, I don't think Materazzi will be ready, Rivas has had surgery and we'll have to see how Chivu is on his return from the national team. But I don't want to use this as an excuse. We have to play well and find our balance."
Too soon for Roma-Inter? Just six rounds into the season, the second clash of the season between the two teams after the Super Cup will hardly be decisive. "For me these matches never come too soon," said Mourinho. "I remember, for example, that I started a season in England with Chelsea-Manchester United. It was the 15th August and it was a nice way to begin the championship. Why can't they do the same in Italy? These are the most exciting matches for everybody but they aren't decisive at the end. A championship is game by game.
"There's no doubt that our start to the championship has been harder. We've had Milan, Roma and Fiorentina, and Sampdoria who are never easy to face, and this shows that it's a very difficult championship. It would be good if we can finish it in an excellent position."
Inter face Roma for the second time this term after their penalties victory in the Italian Super Cup. "I think Roma are a wonderful team with the stability of a coach who has worked with the same players for many years," added Mourinho. "They're just going through a bit of instability at the moment, they had to change tactical system because the results weren't the same, and they didn't have Totti. Our team has had injuries and suspensions but there's a certain stability on the pitch. We're very stable because we know where we have to get to. We just need to work with tranquillity."
Giallorossi captain Francesco Totti could mark his return from injury in Sunday's showdown at the Stadio Olimpico. "You know more than me what Totti means for Roma, for the Serie A, and for his team-mates, but I won't change my tactics because of this," responded Mourinho when asked if Totti is as important a player as he is described.
"I concentrate on my team and our game. I want him (Totti) to play because he's the best player in the Italian championship in terms of spectacle and quality of play, but we always go on the pitch to win and we're not changing attitude now. We lost against Milan and drew with Sampdoria but our mentality hasn't changed. We want to win all our matches, both at home and away."