BELGRADE – File away the league victory against Juventus and focus on
the Europe League. This is the only plan that Andrea Stramaccioni and Inter
have on their minds on the eve of tomorrow evening’s match against Partizan
"Our heads aren’t spinning after the win against the Bianconeri. Obviously Saturday’s victory gave us confidence. It was an important test for my team, but I had said it before the game and it’s what I think now: we’ve only played 11 matches and all it takes is one or two bad results for us to find ourselves back where we were before. So we’re keeping our feet on the ground because we still haven’t done anything yet, and we’re thinking about advancing from our group in the Europa League."
"Inter have to learn how to win gracefully," said Juventus assistant coach Angelo Alessio yesterday: "The response on Inter’s part is that we spoke quite a bit about Saturday’s game during the post-match. Alessio can say what he likes, but the only thing I want the Nerazzurri to have on their minds is the Partizan match. I believe our little secret, the one that’s been with us so far, is having faced every match with great commitment. I’m not interested in talking about the past; right now it’s all about Partizan."
The Nerazzurri coach then went on to give an analysis on the path his team is currently on: "It’s definitely a moment in the season in which Inter are very intensely engaged in both the league and in Europe. This is something we knew would happen and it allows me to utilise all the players on the squad, on whom I’m also placing a lot of expectations. Tomorrow’s game is an important one because a positive result would allow us to advance with two games to go. Of course, as far as our numbers are concerned we’re not in great shape. We have 12 players unavailable: 9 injured and 3 that are not on the Europa League squad. Tomorrow Inter will have to show great character on the pitch. Will Livaja start? He’s part of a youth project that Inter is depending on and has faith in. When we decided not to send Marko out on loan it was because we were thinking of using him in European competition. I honestly didn’t think he would do so well. I have four forwards and I can’t put them all on the pitch tomorrow. Someone will be rested, because Saturday’s match took a lot out of us as well. Zanetti in a 3-man defence? He’s a flank player who can play both up high or further back, on the right or on the left. But it depends on the situation."
The Nerazzurri coach continued: "I think Partizan are growing a lot
after each match they play. In Milan they played an excellent first half and
caused us problems. At home I believe they’ve always won and turned in their
best performances. Tomorrow in front of their fans they’re going to do
everything they can to make life difficult for Inter. For our part, we’ll try
not to repeat the things we didn’t do well in the first leg. Collectively
they’re a good team with interesting players like Markovic, who isn’t the only
one however. We’re hoping they won’t shine tomorrow."
Stramaccioni continued on squad rotation: "Certainly, without going into
details about the line-up, we'll be forced to change some things. Of the six
defenders on the squad, only two are with us currently. And further forward
there are injuries to Coutinho and Sneijder, while Alvarez is unavailable. We
have 19 players and I had to call up Pasa. From a numerical standpoint we’re in
an emergency situation. I don’t think any of the injured players will be
available for Sunday except Alvarez, so I believe we’ll be in the same
situation in Bergamo."
Then the discussion turned to his exchange of words with the Juventus
director general Beppe Marotta regarding the "carelessness" of
Stramaccioni’s game: "I’ve already said this: he wasn’t trying to stir up
controversy and neither was I. I perceived something in his words that he
didn’t actually want to say, so it’s all over."
From Juventus to the refereeing controversies during the 90 minutes of play on
the pitch. Stramaccioni specified: "In the heat of the moment I think it’s
normal for a player or coach to comment on a refereeing decision. I believe
that’s part of football. It’s part of the sport, a sport that relies on the
human eye. As you know, my position is to not comment on the referees'
work. But Inter – as a club,
players and staff – have total confidence in the refs. I was able to talk to
the designator of referees Stefano Braschi, who has all of my, and our,
support. I believe a few words were spent on this incident or that, but the
quality of Italian referees was never up for discussion."
The victory over Juventus has brought many accolades for Andrea Stramaccioni who, however, is keeping his feet on the ground: "Right now all my thoughts are on Partizan. That’s just how I am. I’m very focused on tomorrow’s challenge. Our opponents deserve a lot of respect and I’ll be the first one to transmit the right mentality we need to face Partizan. The compliments for the victory weren’t for me, they were for Inter; the club, the players, the staff behind the team, professor Rapetti who prepares the team athletically for each game. The compliments are for all of them. I prefer to accept them on 30 June. Now we have to get a result against Partizan in a stadium that I’m familiar with from my time in the youth academy. It’s going to be a madhouse. We respect the Europa League, and as a team who have won the Champions League, we’ll face it as if it were the same competition. We’ve always had a hunger. We’re on a winning streak and we want to try to keep it going."