COMO, ITALY - JUNE 05: Head Coach Simone Inzaghi of FC Internazionale speaks to the media during the FC Internazionale press conference before the Final Champions League match between Manchester City and FC Internazionale at Appiano Gentile on June 05, 2023 in Como, Italy. (Photo by Mattia Pistoia - Inter/Inter via Getty Images)

UCL, Inzaghi: "So proud, we can't wait to play City"


Jun 5th 2023

The Nerazzurri coach speaks at the UEFA Open Media Day

APPIANO GENTILE - Five days to go until the UEFA Champions League final, which will see Inter take on Manchester City in Istanbul on Saturday 10 June. As part of the UEFA Media Open Day, Simone Inzaghi spoke at a press conference, answering questions from the journalists present.

Before starting, Nerazzurri Sport CEO Giuseppe Marotta welcomed the journalists as follows:

“Welcome to our home, the Suning Training Centre. This is the place where our adventure began on 7 July 2022, an adventure that then took us to the top rung of European football. I say this with great pride on behalf of the club and the president, whose greetings I will pass on: the credit for this journey is first and foremost due to our coach, our team and all the corporate components that have helped the team. We are very proud to have reached this final. It's the sixth time we've reached the Champions League final: this stage is worthy of Inter's history and we want to honour it in the best possible way, while respecting an extremely strong opponent.”

Giuseppe Marotta - CEO Sport

Here is what Simone Inzaghi had to say:

A final that you deserve to be in. What was the moment when you realised that you could go all the way in this competition? "It was a long journey that started this summer, on the day of the draw, which clearly wasn't the best. We got Bayern and Barcelona, but together with the staff and the team we believed in ourselves right away, we thought we could go far. Now we are in the final: we have had a great journey, but it all started from last year. In my mind and in the boys' minds the four games against Liverpool and Real Madrid have stayed in our minds."

Have you taken a moment to stop and think about what you have achieved? "Yesterday I thought about it a lot, together with my staff we had already seen and worked a lot on City; then also the evening after the second leg against AC Milan. That was not just a derby, but the derby: two games that would decide a season and a Champions League final. Personally, after Turin I started to think more about City."

Everyone considers City favourites, what are your thoughts? "We know that we are up against the strongest team in the world, who have won the Premier League five times in the last six years. We will have to be very careful to play as a team: they have a fantastic squad and a coach who has marked an era in modern football. In football there is a before and after Guardiola."

Is this the most important match of your career? Does it make up for the difficulties you faced during the season? "On the level of importance for sure, but also for my players. Players like Onana and Dzeko have played in the semi-finals, but in the final it is the first time for everyone. It repays us for all the effort, it was a long journey with obstacles, but in the last three months with all the players recovered I have had a deeper squad and we have benefitted."

You faced Guardiola twice as a player and won twice: what memories do you have of these matches? Can having Lautaro in this form be your trump card? "Both teams will hope their most important players make the difference, Lautaro is one of them. I remember these two matches with Guardiola, but I will tell you an anecdote: I met him while having breakfast in New York in 2019 during my honeymoon."

City are aiming for the treble: does that add pressure? Would you have preferred to play against Real Madrid? "They are two teams with a lot of history, I was asked after beating AC Milan, but in recent years they have both dominated in Europe and we have a lot of respect for both teams. Manchester City have won two trophies, but so have Inter: they will be facing an opponent who deserve to be in Istanbul as much as they do."

Is it true that you guessed the result of City vs. Real? What did that match show you? "Definitely a lot of admiration for what they have done over the years, in the semi-final I felt City would go through. The first leg was close, last year the two goals in the second half sent Real to the final, but this year I felt City would win it."

There is doubt as to who will play between Lukaku and Dzeko: have you already decided? "I haven't decided in any position because right now I have the possibility to choose and that for a coach is the best thing there is. In the last two months I have been able to rotate players, in the first five months I didn't have that possibility. In the last two months I have managed it and Inter have had an almost perfect run. As for the choice, there are still many training sessions to go, a coach can have a thought but then every day you see something that makes you change your mind. Until the last moment I will carry my doubts with me."

Istanbul awaits you with great anticipation: what kind of atmosphere are you expecting on Saturday? "We'll find a stadium with lots of people and fans from both teams, there will be Turkish fans split between Calhanoglu and Gundogan, there will be a great atmosphere. We're looking forward to it, on Thursday we'll be there for the first session: Saturday will be a great game."

Did you learn anything from the FA Cup final? "The more you see Manchester City play the more you understand why they achieve so much: they are complete, physical and technical. They have great possession and are aggressive. City have very few weaknesses, but we have shown how good we are: we'll have to take some possession away from them and not give them too much space."

After the FA Cup victory Guardiola said that City are also seeking legitimacy in Europe: many think that this trophy is an obsession for them. Can this factor be an advantage for you on a psychological level? "We will see, it is difficult to predict. It is a very important game for both teams, clubs and fans. It is the final act of the most important competition, City have been chasing it for years: we have made great strides and earned this final. We will try to play a great game, aware of the strength of the opponent we will face."

What have been your team's best qualities this season? "We had to face important matches with important absences, but I have had guys who brought new resources that we didn't even know we had. Many times we had important matches for our season: we knew we had to play as a great Inter team and the boys have done very well to do that."

Inter scored in the 1st minute against Atalanta, as did City against United: how important will it be to start well? "It's vital, you talked about our start against Atalanta and City's start against United. It will be very important, because City always start very strong, we are usually careful and focused, but we will have to be even better."

Is Guardiola the best coach in the world? Is there anything you are afraid of? "We're talking about a football match, I'm not afraid. Guardiola is the strongest coach in the world, I have always said that, but we have no fear, just a lot of respect. We are proud to play this final because we wanted it so badly. Saturday will be the last of 57 games, but we got here thanks to the previous 56, where even a few defeats helped us to grow."

What can Inter do better than United to cause City trouble? "I don't know, but Inter play in a different way and at the same time United are one of the strongest teams around. Every team has their own strategy, United however played well in the final."

We know how much City have won, how can you get extra motivation for this match? "In football it is very important: I am lucky to coach extraordinary guys who have always had very high motivation. There wouldn't have been so many titles and achievements at European level otherwise."

What do you think of the nickname 'King of Cups' for your final wins? What is your secret? "I'm glad, I've always been lucky to have great teams and players, who in the decisive matches have always played great games, defending and attacking in the best way. In the same way we will have to do on Saturday".

Would a victory on Saturday be even more impressive than in 2010? "We will try to do replicate what happened in 2010: the opponents are different, but it would still be a feat of equal value."

Football has a history of underdogs upsetting the odds: how much hope do you have for Saturday's match considering your form? "It was something we've been talking about since the day City beat Real, but we know: the favourite doesn't always win, that's why football is beautiful. We will have to be good at seizing moments, finals are always balanced and the little things will make the difference."

In England there is talk of how you have changed Italian football going forward: will your attacking attitude change up against Haaland and co? "The game will be made up of moments, we will have to try to take some possession away from City. We'll have to be good at managing the game when we have the ball, it's not easy with their pressing. However, we know that there will be moments when we will have to suffer all together."

When playing in the Premier League, opposition often sit back against City: would that be a mistake for you to do? "You will see the strategy on Saturday, but we know they will have lots of possession. We will have to make things difficult and different for them, because they have been playing for so many years together and with the same coach. It will be a very difficult match, but we'll do it with our own weapons."

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