"We face a strong side in good form," said the Inter boss ahead of Wednesday’s clash against Empoli at the Stadio Castellani

APPIANO GENTILERoberto Mancini believes his side will need to be at their very best to beat Empoli on Wednesday evening.

Mancini was speaking at his pre-match press conference, where it was announced that Samir Handanovic has extended his contract with the Nerazzurri until 2019. It means that the Slovenian goalie, who is considered one of the best in the world in his position, will wear the Inter jersey for at least another three seasons. After posing for photos, both coach and keeper sat down to take questions.

First up was a look back to the trip to Qatar from Mancini: "We worked well. It wasn’t too hot and we got some good training in."

Mancini then spoke about the trip to Empoli: "We’ll need to be perfect because Empoli are a very good side in great form. Marco Giampaolo is doing a fantastic job there."

Handanovic echoed his manager’s sentiments: "It’s important we are alert from the off and our attitude is spot on. It happens to all of us. We know that we need to perform well right from the first whistle."

Asked about some of the errors the team has made this season, Handanovic replied: "We just need to keep working hard together and be aware that errors can sometimes happen. We can’t think that just because we’re top and nobody was expecting us to be, we’re performing well and don’t need to work hard at it. In fact we need to give even more in order to build on the results we achieved before Christmas.

"The Fiorentina and Lazio matches were different games. Fiorentina was my fault. I take responsibility. Against Lazio our approach was wrong. We fought back but we couldn’t get a point, which we need to be doing if we can’t win," added Handanovic.

Mancini was then asked about some potential ins, outs and contract renewals: "Palacio and Nagatomo are both fantastic professionals. If it were down to me I would extend their contracts. All of the players have given 100% when they have played.

"At the start of the season we thought Juventus, Roma, Napoli and Fiorentina had more than us, but on the pitch things have gone differently and we hope that continues. To improve a team you need to spend money and with FFP I don’t think that’s an option."

Asked specifically about Marcelo Brozovic, Mancini replied: "If Marcelo keeps a level head then he can become one of the best players around. We have no intention of selling him, not even for a massive offer."

With one journalist asking for a clue as to who might start against Chievo, Mancini gave five names: "Handanovic, Miranda, Murillo, Medel and Ljajic."

Finally, the Inter boss gave his take on Real Madrid’s decision to replace Rafa Benitez with Zinedine Zidane: "It’s always a shame to see a manager lose his job. Zidane is just starting out as a manager and has the quality to be a success. I wish him the best and hope he can achieve some big results."

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