APPIANO GENTILE – "I think optimism breeds more optimism and victories breed more victories. Inter are aware of the fact they are in a decisive stage of the season. Lecce have been improving game on game and although they will be without Chevanton and Di Michele tomorrow that doesn't mean they will change their usual open game. We don't expect it to be an easy match at all." On the eve of Inter's Week 30 match at home to Lecce, Leonardo describes how things stand in the Nerazzurri camp between the fantastic Champions League win over Bayern Munich and tomorrow's league fixture.
The Nerazzurri go into the game high on the euphoria gained at the Allianz Arena after achieving an important target. Could too much euphoria be a bad thing? "I don't think it's a problem. It would have been strange if we hadn't enjoyed the moment a bit after an amazing win like that. But I think Inter are a very experienced team whose best characteristic is their concentration and ability to understand the moment and what needs to be done. Finding a balance between euphoria and concentration, that's the key."The subject then turns to Milito, who was once more left out of the match-day squad: "Diego has to complete his rehabilitation programme. We're not rushing him, though he has responded very well. He trained with us in Munich but he's having a sort of pre-season preparation and he is still two weeks away from completing it. It's best for him to finish his programme."
Leonardo was asked how he intends to deal with the fact that players like Eto'o, Pazzini, Lucio and Nagatomo are one booking away from suspension and risk missing the derby. "It's true that these players are close to a suspension but they were also close when I arrived so I don't see it as something that should be given special consideration, also because we're already missing players." One of those is Andrea Ranocchia: "He won't be involved," explained the Nerazzurri coach, "because he's not fit enough to play. He's played too many games and done more than he should have in his condition; his knee problem is not serious but he won't be playing tomorrow."
The Nyon draw was inevitably another topic on the agenda: "I don't think there is such a thing as an easy Champions League quarter-final," stated Leonardo. "Schalke are high on enthusiasm too and are a team that have been built through long-term investments over a number of years. It's not about being lucky or unlucky. We have to study the side we've been drawn against: they've done very well in the Bundesliga and have gone far in the Champions League; they have a fantastic goalkeeper and two fantastic players in Raul and Farfan. But we're talking about Raul when we should be thinking about Corvia..."
When asked for his view on what Josè Mourinho reportedly said about Inter having a clear path to Wembley after drawing Schalke, Leonardo retorted: "I don't think Mourinho worded it exactly like that because he is a football man and he knows how difficult games can be. We are optimistic based on our own strength, not because of who we will play." Leonardo then quickly brought things back to the present: "But, I repeat, today I only want to talk about Lecce because I hope this game will be further confirmation that we're on track, against a side that go out to play football and who will be coming to the San Siro with enthusiasm."The coach was also asked about the fact that the derby comes at the end of an international break in which 16 Nerazzurri players will leave to join up with their respective national teams ("not an easy situation and something that will need to be handled wisely"), Walter Samuel's fitness ("I hope we might see him back in the side before the end of the season") and Samuel Eto'o ("I'm not saying this just to motivate him, because he gets himself motivated, but without a shadow of doubt he is one of the best players in the world; just look at what he as done since 2005").