A trophy is up for grabs: the Italian Super Cup. We're just one day away from Inter v Juventus, kick-off 21:00 on Wednesday 12 at San Siro. The game sees the Serie A holders face the winners of last season's Coppa Italia face each other.
Simone Inzaghi and captain Samir Handanovic gave their thoughts to the press ahead of the encounter.
How important is president Steven Zhang’s return ahead of such an important game?
I’m happy that our president is here, however that’s not to say we didn’t feel his presence over the months in which he wasn’t in Milan. We’re constantly in touch; we hope to put in a great performance for him, for our fans, and for the club. We’re preparing for the game as best as we can because it’s a huge game.
Juventus have gone eight games unbeaten. What kind of match do you expect?
It’s a final; there are no favourites. I’ve taken part in this match both as a player and as a coach. We’re facing a team which is on form; last Sunday they made an incredible comeback to win in style. Juventus know all about playing in finals. We’re on great form ourselves; we’ll give the best account of ourselves to give the fans some joy. the level of motivation will be key but it will, of course, come down to fine margins on the day.
As coach you’ve beaten Juventus twice in the Super Cup. What’s the secret to overcoming the Bianconeri?
Finals are different kinds of games; they can be settled by one action. We’ll need to put in a shift, be aggressive and show determination. We’ll face difficulties but we’ll need to be able to cope with being under the cosh in the game.
Are you worried that the tag of favourites for this season could be a burden for Inter?
We’re not afraid; in fact, this drives us on. Back on 20 August when the season began Juventus were the clear favourites to win the league with some other teams in with a shot as well. It’ll go down to the wire; Milan, Napoli, Atalanta and the now on-form Juventus are all contenders. There’s a long way to go.
Inter have got Hakan Calhanoglu back in contention, while Juventus will be missing Federico Chiesa, Juan Cuadrado and Matthijs De Ligt. Will those absences be telling?
Juve have a great squad. Max Allegri will know how to deal with said absentees. They’ll have Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini back; they’ll be competitive. I’d like to wish Chiesa well. I played with his father and Federico is a big part of the fabric of Italian football.
The first game of the season in Serie A ended 1-1. What has changed since that encounter?
We thought we had that game done and dusted but then that penalty came. It’s been months since that match; both teams have improved. It was a cagey encounter, you could tell both teams were playing catch-up in the league, both Inter and Juve underperformed.
Are things easier to deal with when you’ve got a captain with a lot of personality in Samir Handanovic?
Since day one every player has given their all. Players with whom I’ve played like Samir and Aleksander Kolarov have really helped me out and do so every day. Yet every member of the squad has weighed in. Both the club itself and the fans have backed me from the day I came in.
Are you more motivated for the Super Cup having dropped points late on in the league game?
We’re fired up anyway because it’s a final and what’s more it’s at San Siro. There’s no element of revenge; it’s just about winning a trophy.
How are the forwards doing? Edin Dzeko and Joaquin Correa came on against Lazio; what’s the status of their fitness?
We’ve got a training session today and both Dzeko and Correa are in good condition. I’ve got four forwards at my disposal; two start while the other two are on the bench. I’ll pick the right duo for the right occasion.
Only Nevio Scala (in the Coppa Italia and the UEFA Cup) and Roberto Mancini (in the Coppa Italia and the Super Cup) have beaten Juventus twice in finals, just as you’ve done so in the Super Cup.
We played great in the two victories in the Super Cup with Lazio against Juventus despite going into those games as underdogs. Yet I’ve also lost a Coppa Italia final against the Bianconeri. It’ll be a great game to be involved in and we’ll try to win it for our fans.