Serie A TIM


Simone Inzaghi says the team are fired up and ready for a testing run of games that will see them play against AC Milan, Roma, Napoli and Liverpool in the space of a fortnight.

The coach was speaking to journalists at an online media conference ahead of Saturday's Milan derby.

"It's the start of a very busy and very exciting spell for us,” Inzaghi began. “We'll be playing lots of top teams one after another. We're preparing for the derby now and the lads are really up for it and fully focused. We're preparing for it in a calm manner.”

Do you think this game could remove Milan from the title race?
“I don't think so. There are another 15 matches to go and we all saw what happened in the first half of the season. We were seven points behind and drew the derby and still managed to close the gap. It's an important game and we know how much it means to the fans but there are 45 points and a lot of football to play before we can draw any conclusions.”

Would a win for Inter be a show of strength looking at the fixture list?
“We know how things were when we started out in the summer. There were a lot of question marks but it all turned out well. We have plenty of incentive to keep us from lowering our guard. We're trying to be responsible in our approach to the remaining months.”

Do you think you have a better-rounded squad with Robin Gosens and Felipe Caicedo?
"We have an excellent management team and a fantastic president who's very supportive. The club did a great job and brought in two players who can help us this season. Robin is working his way back from quite a serious problem and he'll need a bit of time. I've worked with Felipe in recent years and I know him well. [Stefano] Sensi left because he wanted to play more regularly. I'm happy with the business we've done.”

Who will be your penalty-taker for this match?
“I need to assess the condition of those who will be playing. We have several penalty-takers: Lautaro [Martinez] is the main one, then we have [Hakan] Calhanoglu and others who can take them.”

Is the favourites tag an incentive or a burden? 
“I played in lots of derbies and there's never a favourite. Tomorrow will be no different: it's a game that will be won by fine margins. It will come down to our motivation.”

In light of the January transfer window, which team do you think is best placed to challenge Inter for the title?
“The league table doesn't lie: it's all still open. Besides Milan and Napoli, there's Atalanta and Juventus, who are very good teams. Juventus have been doing really well in the last two months and they've made some great signings. All of the teams down to Juventus could win the Scudetto.”

Do you think the Milan side you'll face tomorrow is stronger or weaker than the one you played earlier in the season? 
“Last time we played them they were in great form, then they had lots of injury problems and results fell off a bit. Pioli is an excellent coach who gets his teams very well organised. The pitch had a bearing too and it's been relaid now. It's going to be great to play the derby at San Siro.”

Do you have a special memory of when you watched the derby as a kid?
“When Filippo and I were kids, our dad always took us to watch Piacenza – that was the city where we grew up and the team we supported. My derby was Piacenza against Cremonese. The players I admired most as a kid were [Karl-Heinz] Rummenigge, [Alessandro] Altobelli and [Evaristo] Beccalossi. Spillo [Altobelli] especially.”

How are they players who have come back from international duty looking? 
“We have today's training session to look at and assess them. Lautaro did a bit of training with Caicedo yesterday. I'll see [Alexis] Sanchez today but he told me he's in great shape. [Joaquin] Correa is still unavailable. He's fine and hopes to speed up his recovery. Gosens has work to do.”

(Photo LaPresse)