APPIANO GENTILE – Simone Inzaghi hopes Tuesday's morale-boosting semi-final win over AC Milan will help his team overcome any fatigue felt when they take on Jose Mourinho's Roma on Saturday.
The Nerazzurri are in the midst of a busy run of fixtures while the Giallorossi have been lifted by their own semi-final success, in the Conference League, and are unbeaten in over three months in Serie A.
This is what Inzaghi had to say to the media head of Saturday's 18:00 CEST kick-off at the Stadio Meazza.
How do you prepare for a match like this after the derby and what kind of game are you expecting?
“We're going to be up against one of the best teams in the league, and what's more they're in excellent form. We all know who their coach is and what he's achieved in the past, both at Inter and in other countries. We know it's a massively important game for us and it won't be at all easy.”
How can you leave a player like Joaquin Correa on the bench on current form?
“He's had some really good games but so have his team-mates. We have another training session this afternoon and then we'll have a quick run-out tomorrow morning. Everyone is available for selection except [Arturo] Vidal, who twisted his ankle badly in the last few minutes of the derby. I'll decide on the team tomorrow.”
The win against Juventus gave Inter a kickstart of sorts and beating Milan was another mental boost but it took a lot out of the team. How are the players looking now?
“The Coppa Italia game was a massive confidence boost. We played really well and it means we're now in another final. We went through a spell when we picked up less than we deserved. The end of the season is going to be very tight but we're in the mix.”
Inter started the derby very aggressively. How much energy do you have left for your tricky run-in?
“We know there's a month left of the season and we have lots of games one after another. The players and I know we must be smart and stay calm to prepare for each match as best we can. We're not thinking about the derby anymore – only Roma, a team who are in great physical shape at the moment too. We'll need to run hard and play with grit and determination. Between now and the end we're going to face lots of teams who will try to trip us up.”
Is it fair to say the next two games, against Roma and Bologna, will go a long way to deciding the Scudetto race?
“This coming week, with Roma, Bologna and Udinese, is incredibly important for us. We know that and we need to be very smart if we're to prepare properly for all of them in a week. It's not the first time we'll have had such an intense period though, as we'll have played 52 games come the end of the season. Obviously it takes a lot out of you but you have to deal with each one as it comes.”
Inter will play two more games than your rivals between now and the end of the season. Do you see that as a problem?
“No, because one of those games is the cup final we've earned. Obviously we'd have preferred to play Bologna in January but it wasn't possible because of the pandemic. We have to play the game now but fortunately I have experienced players. We know how to recover mentally after every exertion.”
Massimiliano Allegri said that the Juve v Inter game was the turning point in the title race. Do you agree?
“It was an important win which came at a difficult time for us. The lads have been working superbly since 8 July. They're all very professional and focused. After making a strong start, we raised expectations. Having so many matches to play should give us extra motivation. There are lots of pitfalls ahead but we're preparing in the best way possible. I just hope we don't get any injuries so that I have options to choose from.”
Are you going to rotate considering you have seven matches in 29 days? With Vidal unavailable, will we see rotation in midfield?
“Obviously we often play with [Nicolo] Barella, [Marcelo] Brozovic and [Hakan] Calhanoglu in midfield. [Roberto] Gagliardini and [Matias] Vecino have been playing less but they train so well every day and they're going to be very important between now and the end. Arturo has played lots of games as a sub and the other day he did really well after coming on but unfortunately did his ankle. Hopefully we'll have him back for Bologna.”
There's been more talk about the refereeing in the derby than the victory itself. What do you think about that?
“We're delighted to be in the final of the Coppa Italia. Italian referees are among the best in the world and we're lucky to have them. Referees can make mistakes just as coaches and players make mistakes. Over the course of a season the things that go against you and the ones that go your way even themselves out.”
What are you expecting from this game against Roma?
“This match is like a final for us. They haven't lost in the league since 9 January and they're performing very well indeed. We must be really ready for it.”
Is there a way to play Robin Gosens and Ivan Perisic together? Could Perisic play in central midfield?
“I'm lucky to be able to work with both Ivan and Robin. They're fabulous players and they're both in good shape. They played together against Verona, with Perisic further forward in attack. Perisic can play on the right as well but we have [Denzel] Dumfries and [Matteo] Darmian there. I'm happy to have options. The main thing is keeping everyone fit.”