Inter head coach Simone Inzaghi has dismissed any idea that his side will sit back and defend their two-goal lead in the Champions League semi-final second leg against AC Milan.
Milan will have a mountain to climb in the second leg of their Champions League semi-final against Inter after losing the first act 2-0 at San Siro, with Stefano Pioli’s side rocked by a lightning fast start from Inter.
The first goal came after less than 10 minutes in as nobody marked Edin Dzeko from a corner and he fired in first time. The second just minutes later when Henrikh Mkhitaryan strolled through the middle unopposed to slot past Mike Maignan, and it could have been a wider margin in truth.
Inzaghi spoke to the reporters present at his pre-match press conference in view of tomorrow night’s game at San Siro, with his comments relayed by MilanNews and translated below.
What made the difference in Inter’s journey in Europe?
“There was a bit of disappointment in the draws in August, we hadn’t been very lucky, but at the same time what I limited myself to saying to my staff and the players is that even Barça and Bayern weren’t happy. Tomorrow will be a step important.”
What kind of a game will it be tomorrow?
“Tomorrow we’ll have to fight together with our fans. We’ve had difficult times, but we’ve always been together. Tomorrow we’ll need a cool head and a warm heart, it’s the only way to race like this.”
How are Correa and Lautaro?
“Correa asked for the substitution, I wouldn’t have removed him because he was satisfying me. Let’s hope it’s nothing serious, the sensations are good but we’ll evaluate in today’s training: he should be there but I’m not sure. Lautaro is in an excellent moment.”
Do you feel calmer after the reverse leg?
“It’s a very important eve, but as a coach I experience them all in the same way. Tomorrow we know it’s one of the most important matches in Inter’s history. Tomorrow we know we have a well-deserved advantage, but we won’t just have to manage it: we’ll have to play like Inter, knowing that we have a strong team up front.”
Has Lukaku returned to the same level as in his first two years at Inter?
“You know him, you know what he can do. It’s what we expected during the year, unfortunately something unexpected happened both for him and for Brozovic who took away two indispensable players for many months.
“Important games come to mind played without of them, but what you see is a Lukaku who has arrived in the last month in the best possible way.
“Three games a week right now I don’t even know if he can handle, and I don’t even know if he can give us quality in two fundamental games for us like the one at the Olimpico or against Sassuolo.”
How do you handle a wounded beast like Milan?
“We have an advantage, but we know we can’t sit on it. We have to act like Inter, trying to get out of the pitfalls in the best way.”
A thought on the referee?
“I hardly talk about it, sometimes I can’t. In the first leg there was an episode that needed to be evaluated in a different way, I’m referring to Krunic’s foul on Bastoni, it certainly would have given the match a different meaning.
“It wasn’t like that and there’s no problem. I have many friends who, when they saw the designation of a Frenchman with so many French players from Milan in the squad, told me there’s no problem, we have faith.”
In the first leg, your choices paid off. Maybe you need more respect?
“Thank you, fortunately I read and listen very little, but I know everything. My great fortune and also that of my staff is that we listen and read little. After the game it’s always easy to say. Sometimes we coaches have to make choices, we do every day: sometimes you are luckier and sometimes you are not. It is our job that requires it.”
On a tactical level, are you thinking of playing deeper or not?
“You can have something in mind, but you never know how the game will turn out. There will be times when you have to be more aggressive and others when less. We know we’re facing a team that, in addition to Leao, has quality players, has won the Scudetto and is in the semi-finals of the Champions League.”
You would be the fifth Italian coach in the Champions League final…
“We know we are 90 minutes away from a dream, which these splendid boys and I had. Thanks to them we are in the final of the Coppa Italia. We worked very well during the break, even if we had some players out for the World Cup.
“We worked very hard well at that stage, right now with such important matches it was fortunate not to have much time to think. In the league five games ago we were far from a basic, very important objective, but now our thoughts are only on tomorrow.”
How did you transform Calhanoglu, who used to be a second striker, into a player who dictates the game?
”It was a choice, an intuition, Brozovic was out and I thought he could be the solution. He was very good, Darmian comes to mind who is doing great things as a centre-back, a role he had never played and he was very good.
“I’m lucky enough to train top quality players who know how to adapt to individual situations. Luis Alberto at Lazio comes to mind, he was a second striker and then he became one of the most important midfielders in Europe.”
There is a lot of talk about Milan. Do you have the feeling that it depends only on you instead?
“Absolutely. We know who we’re going to face, but we also know that we’re in an excellent moment. We’re ready for a match of this importance, we’ve already gone through it with a very strong team like Benfica, even if it wasn’t a derby the result was the same.
“The game against Sassuolo was also a tricky match, we were good at continuing on our path.”