MILAN – There was a special fan in the crowd watching the Primavera's opening NextGen Series match at the Centro Sportivo Giacinto Facchetti this afternoon: Andrea Stramaccioni.
During the break, the Nerazzurri coach told Inter Channel what it felt like to see the Under-19s starting out again in the competition that he won last term. "Coming back to this pitch always gives me great joy. I'm a simple guy really and I feel a strong bond with the youth academy and the lads who are here. I wanted to be here today at all costs."
Playing against top-level opponents and other cultures is "an amazing, unique experience that pits you against different footballing schools. Inter are showing how much quality there is in the Nerazzurri academy and also the quality of Daniele Bernazzani's work."
Seeing players develop their skills as they switch between the first team and the Primavera "is a sign that they have understood what our project is all about and how closely these two teams are linked," Stramaccioni explained. "We have a very close-knit set-up at Inter and it's important for that the first team – today represented by myself, Beppe Baresi and Massimiliano Catini – show the Primavera that we're right there with them."
What similarities does Stramaccioni see between this Primavera side and the one he coached last year? "I think Daniele [Bernazzani] is doing a fantastic job. His team are top of the league, they look solid and play attacking football. There's nothing of mine in there, the only connection is the affection I feel towards them. They've also got off to a much better start than I did: last year, in my first game against Tottenham, I was losing 6-1 at half time..."