MADRID – Simone Inzaghi addressed the press on the eve of Inter’s final Champions League group game away to Real Madrid which will determine which of the two teams heads into the round of 16 as group winners.
Real Madrid just need a draw, so what sort of encounter are you expecting? Does the absence of [Karim] Benzema change your plans?
“It’s an important game for us. Both sides are already in the last 16 but we want to produce a top display. We turned in a decent performance when we met earlier in the season, but it wasn’t enough. We’ll have to do something extra tomorrow. Benzema is a top player, but coaches live with these types of problems. [Luka] Jovic scored and got an assist in his last game. Real Madrid have incredible resources.”
What have you changed since the start of the season? Inter are now in decent form…
“We’ve got to know one another better. The team played in the same formation last year as well. We’ve been playing good football since the opening games of the season. We’ve dropped some points, but we’ve always worked hard in the right way. We’re now on a good run, which is a big confidence-booster.”
What do you think of Carlo Ancelotti?
“Carlo’s career speaks for itself. We spoke before the home match and it’s always a pleasure. I’m pleased it’s going well for him in the league. Real Madrid are having a super season.”
What’s the latest team news? Are Lautaro [Martinez] and [Stefan] De Vrij back?
“[Andrea] Ranocchia, [Matteo] Darmian, [Martin] Satriano and [Joaquin] Correa won’t be involved, with the latter getting injured on Saturday at the Olimpico. It’s a shame because he was improving day after day and he was doing very well. It’s not the first loss we’ve suffered this season, but we’ll cope with it. Lautaro has trained without any issues. We’ll have to see how De Vrij and [Aleksandar] Kolarov get on in the final training session ahead of the game.”
Are Inter now bearing the “burden” of representing the best of Italian football?
“Expectations are high, as they were ahead of the home game where we deserved more. Playing away from home is different, of course, but we are confident. We’re doing well and we’re making our fans and the club happy. We’ve reached the last 16, but the match and the stage tomorrow are both important.”
Whoever comes in to replace injured players always seems to do well. What’s the secret?
“That’s something to be proud of as a coach. They’ve all been involved and it’s great to see that those who’ve played less have come in and done well. I have to manage the squad as well as I can by putting forward new ideas and motivating the players. The core aspect is that I’m in charge of a group of serious professionals.”
Does tomorrow’s game feel like a university exam?
“It’s a key game tomorrow. Inter have only won once in Madrid. There will be difficult moments when we’ll have to dig in, but we’ve come here to play with character and want to do well.”
How worried are you by Vinicius?
“We know him well. He has so much quality and he’s showing real consistency this year in terms of goals and assists. We’ll have to keep an eye on him, as we will with so many Real players. They have so many top footballers.”