Simone Inzaghi held a press conference on Friday afternoon to discuss Inter's visit to Jose Mourinho's Roma at the Stadio Olimpico on Saturday.
What sort of game are you expecting?
“It''s one of the biggest games we have in this run of fixtures. We'll be up against an excellent team with great players so we must be very careful – we'll need a real Inter performance.”
Where do you think Lautaro Martinez can improve?
“He has to keep doing what he's doing. He's very young and has lots of room for improvement. I'm very happy with him and the other forwards we have. They're all doing well and helping out when we don't have the ball. Lautaro has scored in the last three matches and long may he keep it up!”
What's your opinion of Jose Mourinho?
“It will be nice to meet him as I've never come up against him before. I know this is a special match for him so we'll need to be even more careful. We all know how capable he is and what he's achieved at the clubs he's worked for.”
Do you expect to have any of the injured players back for this game?
“Andrea Ranocchia and Matteo Darmian definitely won't be involved and it's unlikely [Stefan] de Vrij and [Aleksandar] Kolarov will be either. I think we'll have them in the squad for Madrid or possibly Cagliari. I need to assess the others. [Alessandro] Bastoni's temperature had gone down by yesterday but he hasn't trained yet. He seems to be better but I'll need to look at them all individually today.”
What do you think about the possibility of reaching the midway point of the season in first place?
“It doesn't mean much really. I wasn't worried when we were a long way off the top because I could see we were playing well and we're closer now. We've won eight and drawn two of our last ten games in all competitions and that's helped us catch up but the other teams are going strong too. We just have to keep focusing on one game at a time because there are another 22 or 23 to go and lots of points to play for. Tomorrow is the most important match in this current run of games.”
Do you think there are too many matches? If Milan Skriniar and Bastoni are both available tomorrow, which of the two is best suited to playing at the heart of the defence?
“I have a choice to make. It was something I hadn't thought about before because I knew I had De Vrij and Ranocchia. When neither of them was available I played Bastoni there against Venezia and he did really well, then when we was out too I used Skriniar against Spezia and he played well. We'll see how Bastoni's doing tomorrow and then we'll decide. Injuries can happen when you're playing every two or three days. Perhaps the season could start earlier or there could be more international matches played together. As coaches, we have to adapt and get on with it and we do. Against Spezia I ended up with just two of my six defenders to choose from but we overcame the problem.”
What makes you confident that Inter can finish top of the pile?
“We've made up ground by getting results consistently. In our first few games we often dropped points because of particular moments that can happen in a football match. You have to be good at turning those moments in your favour.”
How have you managed to maintain the team's balance while playing good football?
“We all know each other better now. The lads were producing good football from the start but we didn't always keep our shape. We analysed things and now we're in good form. We're creating lots of chances, we're the highest scorers in the league and lately we've been very solid defensively too. All that matters now is this match against Roma – and they're going to be smarting after losing last time out.”
Are you excited about going back to Rome?
“It always feels a bit strange for me to go back but now I just see this as a big match – it's not a derby anymore because I feel 100% part of Inter now. We know we'll be facing a great team and a fantastic coach and we'll need character, grit and determination – you always need that at the Olimpico.”