Simone Inzaghi admitted that he still has doubts about his starting XI against Porto in the Champions League. The Nerazzurri travel to Portugal this evening to take on The Primeira Liga giants but may have to make do without the presence of centre-back Milan Skriniar, whose presence in the starting XI is still a doubt. Speaking in his pre-match press-conference yesterday (as quoted by FCInterNews) Inzaghi explained what he expects from his side, starting with putting the defeat against Spezia last week behind them and focusing on Porto:
How were the days after the Spezia game?
“We analysed, we talked, we reviewed. But that’s the past, the game of the moment is tomorrow’s match with Porto. In La Spezia I think that losing while playing like that can happen once every 500 games, it happened and we licked our wounds. Now we think about Porto, a very difficult opponent in a very fiery stadium. We played the first half at San Siro, now it’s the second and we want to take our chances in the best possible way.”
You have had your best games against the strongest teams. Are you asking for a mental breakthrough this time?
“Absolutely. We have already faced certain games like that in the season and last year. We know we can make the big leap by moving into the top eight. We want to improve on last year, we always work towards that. We had a great first half at San Siro, now comes the more challenging second half and we have to play a great match against an opponent used to this kind of team.”
How have you prepared? Will Lukaku start? Will the referee protect you?
“Lukaku, Skriniar… I have a lot of doubts about the line-up which I’ll clear up tomorrow. Skriniar has been out for a fortnight and I’ll have to evaluate him. The thing that impressed me the most is what Milan did to recover in order to be there for this match, he gave great availability but I’ll have to evaluate his condition. On the attack I still have doubts, on Lukaku we’ll see. There’s also Correa recovered and we’ll see how the match develops. On the referee I say that in Barcelona he did a great match, he deservedly sent me off. I am convinced that he will do very well tomorrow too because he is a great referee.”
Do such taunts also fire you up?
“Absolutely, but I can control what happens on the pitch. These are two teams that will face each other after having arrived there with great merit.”
How much does Zhang’s constant presence help?
“Steven helps us on a daily basis. The meetings are daily, with him, the management…. The team is seen in the good moments but also in the bad ones. It’s easy to do it only in winning. In Italy all the other teams are doing this and so is Inter. Porto is second like Inter. Friday was a bad defeat but I saw the boys very united.”
Why do have confidence in this Inter?
“Because of what we have done in this Champions League. On the day of the draw I don’t know if you expected Inter to be in the round of 16, but we believed in it a lot. We wanted to get there, we had a good match in the first leg, but now there are another ninety minutes plus injury time.”
On the criticism against you, what does you say?
“I think I never answered. On the eve of a match like this I don’t feel like answering and I know that those who criticise do so for a reason, but we will let the pitch speak for us as we have done so far for better or worse.”
Do you expect a different match at the San Siro and are you afraid of Conceição’s history with the Italian sides?
“Porto is a complete team, we saw that in the first leg too. We also know the statistics of this team but we have prepared in the best possible way, looking above all at ourselves.”