APPIANO GENTILE – Simone Inzaghi sat down with the media on Saturday to discuss his side's Serie A clash with Napoli – an 18:00 CET kick-off at the Meazza on Sunday.
What sort of game are you expecting tomorrow?
“We know it's another hugely important game, like the last one was against AC Milan. It's important for the league standings, with the best attack against the best defence. Courage and motivation will be very important.”
Could this match represent a crossroads in the season?
“It means a lot for sure. We've done really well so far, both in Serie A and the Champions League. We have two points fewer than last year and played more away games. AC Milan and Napoli are going stronger than anything we've seen in the last 40 years in Italy. We know we deserved more against Atalanta, Juventus and Milan but ended up drawing those games. We need to do a little bit better in these head-to-head matches, starting tomorrow evening.”
How do you plan to use your forwards bearing in mind the upcoming Champions League match?
“I could have answered that better before we played Milan or Sheriff because we had a full squad available then. Now we've lost [Stefan] De Vrij, [Alexis] Sanchez and we've had a few problems with [Alessandro] Bastoni and [Edin] Dzeko. We still have today's training session and tomorrow but in any case my focus is on Napoli. We have another important game coming up on Wednesday but I'll put out our best team tomorrow.”
Are you surprised by how well Luciano Spalletti has done at Napoli?
“Spalletti has done well wherever he's gone. He's a very good coach who improves the teams he works with. Napoli are an excellent side. The club did a great job of keeping their best players. Spalletti is doing really well, continuing the excellent work [Gennaro] Gattuso did in the last year and a half.”
What do you need to further improve your mentality?
“We need to try and turn the game-changing moments in our favour. Our numbers and stats are very good and we deserved more from the head-to-head matches we've played. We need to do better but I'm very proud of my decision to join Inter. We're competitive in all areas. I'm lucky to have a club that supports me at all times and amazing fans. We're playing at home tomorrow and we know they'll be behind us from the very first minute.”
If there's a penalty, who will take it?
“We'll have to see who plays. We have Lautaro [Martinez], [Hakan] Calhanoglu and [Ivan] Perisic – those are our first options. Lautaro scored a very important penalty at Sassuolo. Against Milan, Calhanoglu did well with the first one then the keeper made a good save to keep out Lautaro's. We'll be ready for it.”
Can you explain why Lautaro has struggled to find the net recently?
“Strikers go through barren spells sometimes. It happened to me, to my brother, to [Ciro] Immobile at Lazio, although thankfully not often. Lautaro is working well and working hard for the team. He's fully involved. A striker should be worried if he's not getting any chances but he's had chances in the last few games, in the derby too. He just needs to keep working as he's been doing and believing in himself and the goals will come again for him.”
How big an impact do you think refereeing mistakes have had?
“I've been playing games in Europe for years and we have no reason to complain because we're lucky in Italy. Referees can make mistakes like players can miss a goal or coaches get their line-up wrong. At the end of the derby I congratulated the refereeing team because there was only one booking and the referee did a great job.”
Would you like Calhanoglu to play closer to the goal?
“He's had a good season. He's a quality player who works hard and he played really well against Juventus and Milan. He needs to keep working the way he is. Obviously he plays a bit deeper in the system we use but he's still able to cause problems for opponents – he's got goals and assists. We're happy to have him.”
What's your view on San Siro?
“Playing at San Siro is always a great experience. If there's a new stadium, I'm sure it will help both Inter and Milan to develop further.”
Have you spoken to Marcelo Brozovic to explain how central he is to Inter's plans?
“Brozovic is a fantastic player. He's been at Inter for years and done really well here. I'm lucky to work alongside management figures who deal with all such matters first hand and they know exactly what I think of Marcelo.”
Have you decided who will replace De Vrij?
“We've always had a few problems after international games. If nothing changes, [Andrea] Ranocchia will play tomorrow: he's been here for years and is very reliable. I'm sure he'll play really well and will make sure De Vrij's absence isn't felt.”