KYIV – The National Sports Complex Olimpiyskiy in Kyiv is the setting for Shakhtar Donetsk v Inter at 18:45 CEST on Tuesday on matchday 2 in the Champions League. Simone Inzaghi answered questions from journalists in his pre-match press conference on Monday evening.
21 years ago, you scored against Shakhtar for Lazio on the Ukrainian side’s Champions League debut. Shakhtar have taken many steps forward since that day.
“I remember that game very well and it’s crazy that so much time has passed since. They’ve made fantastic progress as a club. For example, they reached the Europa League semi-finals two years ago. They’re ambitious and will want to create problems for us.”
Is the Shakhtar game decisive in terms of the group?
“I don’t think it’s decisive already, but it’s certainly very important. Shakhtar are a great team with a top coach. They play good football and have some impressive individuals. We’ll have to produce a fantastic performance, but I did like what I saw against Atalanta, who are an excellent side.”
How much has the fact that you know De Zerbi well influenced your preparations for the game?
“After watching Shakhtar in the Champions League qualifiers, the Super Cup and recent matches, it’s clear that Roberto [De Zerbi] is implementing his footballing ideas. He has some fantastic players and has already done well to adapt the team based on the attributes that they have collectively.”
What do you ask your team to do? What do you want to see?
“I’d asked the team to react and play good football. We’ve seen just that in the opening games so far. Now we need to strike the right balance. We attack in numbers and are playing a brand of attractive football. When we make mistakes within risky moves, sometimes we find ourselves facing dangerous transitions.”
Verona, Fiorentina and Atalanta all pressed high and made it difficult for Inter. Do you think those have been the toughest games so far?
“It’s true. We did face some difficult moments in those three games, but we’ve always reacted as a team, kept our cool and picked ourselves back up, even after falling behind.”
Do you think you can strike the right balance in terms of the team’s general play or by picking the right individual players?
“We’re an attacking team that likes to build the play. On days where we make more mistakes than usual against fast teams, we can suffer on the counter-attack. We don’t want to stifle ourselves, but we’re certainly looking for a better balance.”