Ranieri: "What we've done belongs to the past"


Read the Nerazzurri coach's words from his press conference ahead of the Lazio match

APPIANO GENTILE – "What we've done belongs to the past, confined to oblivion. All that matters now is Lazio, a strong, dynamic side. It will be a much more difficult match than the derby." AC Milan and Genoa have been forgotten about and Claudio Ranieri, speaking in his pre-match press conference, was very clear about what approach will be needed against Lazio in tomorrow evening's clash at the Meazza.

The former Roma coach added that for him "it won't be a derby but a difficult game against a team that has earned more points away from home than at the Stadio Olimpico, who lost only to Siena right after the holidays, a single game before getting back to being the Lazio of old. And if we look at what they've done in the second half of games, they have more points than anyone."

The coach was asked if Lazio will provide easier opposition without Dias and Hernandez: "Rocchi might not make the game but I don't think Dias and Hernandez will be missing."

The Nerazzurri coach continued: "We've taken giant strides, but now we have a huge obstacle to overcome and we must maintain maximum concentration, especially as we're playing a game every three days. What sort of rotation will I use with the available players? The next game always takes priority and I'll try to put out a competitive team. I need all of them and they will all have to give 100%."

All of them, and that includes Wesley Sneijder: "He's played his first game in two months but he looked determined and confident to me. He obviously needs to get more minutes in his legs, but I'm not going to make the same mistake I made at the start, when I said he would reach full fitness playing games and then he had an injury setback. That's why I'm bringing him back in slowly." So he'll be used in small doses? "Yes, in the sense that he needs to be eased back in the right way. If he's training well he'll play when I feel the time is right. I hope that he'll soon be back to the Sneijder we all know. This is something I said at Christmas: our biggest signings will be him, Forlan, Chivu and Stankovic, players I've been able to use much less than the others until now."

Quizzed on the transfer market, Ranieri explained that "I'll only give you my assessment of people who play for Inter. I don't like talking about players who don't belong to this club. Do we need forwards? I think Pazzini is in better form than Milito: he's playing very well and working extremely hard for the team. That's crucial because if we stop doing that we'll go back to being a normal team. Thiago Motta? He's a unique player. Whether I consider him someone we could sell or not is something I'll say within the confines of a room, not here in front of all you journalists. He's an important player, as the club and the president well know, but there are always various things to consider."

Would Ranieri exclude the possibility of Sneijder and Alvarez playing together in the same side? "We'll see. I don't exclude anything, that's not part of my philosophy. I believe that good players need to be set out well on the pitch. It's my task to choose the best ones and find the right balance. I didn't do that against Udinese and I paid the price for it."

Is there space for Zarate and Castaignos in this equilibrium? "I believe in Zarate because when I've brought him on he's looked motivated. There's no pecking order in my team: the players who are first choice are so because they're in the best form at that time. Recently I think Castaignos has looked better than Zarate but in Mauro I've seen the class that I always hope to see from him."

Finally, regarding the criticism of the Nerazzurri's football in the derby victory over AC Milan, Ranieri was very clear: "I would like a little respect for a coach who admits it when the opposition has played better, and when his own team has played better he says that too. Let me be myself, fair to my opponents and willing to recognise when they play well. What's good in the eyes of one person looks different in the eyes of another. I thought it was a very good game against Milan, and I'm sure that if you ask the fans at least 90% of them would agree with me. I read that the football of the future will be to change formation midway through a game; that's something I did when I was at Cagliari..."

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