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Inzaghi: ‘This is the most important match of my career’

Simone Inzaghi believes Inter’s Champions League Euroderby against Milan is the most important match of his career. The city rivals face off this evening in the first-leg of the semi-finals, with the Nerazzurri having won their last five matches in a row in all competitions. Speaking in his pre-match presser, Inzaghi addressed the reports that Rafael Leao may not be fit to feature but also focused on the important of belief, explaining why he said Inter can win the competition after overcoming teams like Barcelona and Porto:

Inter arrive in the best condition physically and mentally. Is this the best time to play this match?

“Qualifying for the Champions League semifinals, the Coppa Italia final and the latest results have made us prepare for the matches in the best possible way. Tomorrow is the derby, we all know the importance it has and we want to face it in the best way.”

In what spirit is the team coming into the game?

“Well, we will need heads and hearts. On the heart I have no doubt. On the head it will be necessary to be good at using it. There will be pitfalls and setbacks. It will be played over 180 minutes’.”

How will it change whether Leao is there or not?

“We know the qualities of the player and that he may or may not be there but it will not affect our game plan. We have met Milan so many times. They are not only a counterattacking team, they also have very good dribbling. We will have to be good in all phases.”

Are you preparing the match with Leao on the pitch or not?

“As I said, we know the qualities of the player. We know that everyone will give their best.”

With Brozovic being there, is there a possibility that Calhanoglu will be out?

“There are so many close games, tomorrow we will have a scrimmage but I am serene because the boys know that I have to choose and if they are not there from the start they will be very useful later, as it was also with Juventus and Benfica.”

Do you feel you are the favorites?

“The matches are stories in themselves. We are not hiding, we all want to play it together. It would be a great step that will have to be taken with determination and aggressiveness.”

Where and how did Inter lose the first and where did it win the other two derbies this year?

“In these seven we won and lost, played semifinals and finals. We will have to be very focused because unforeseen events in matches like that are always there. We have been good at staying together and covering the field.”

Is this the most important match of your career?

“Definitely. We have lived through so many finals. This is the derby and we know what it represents, even for me. I’m pretty calm because I’ve seen the guys focused. It will be decided in 180 minutes.”

Before the first leg with Porto you said you could win the Champions League. What did you see at that time?

“After going through the round with Barcelona and Bayern, the group gained great awareness. We know that all matches are very difficult. Porto and Benfica were very difficult opponents to overcome. Now we need one more even more important step to get to the final.”

What are the differences between the Rome and Milan derbies?

“They are very heartfelt. They used to say that there was no comparison between Rome and Milan, I have to say that it is actually very heartfelt here as well.”

Lukaku has started scoring again. How important is this improvement of his?

“It’s very important, that’s why we got him. The injury took him away from us for almost four months. Now he is helping us as others are doing. He is an extra weapon for us. Just like the return of Brozovic, who we missed, was important.”

What did you say to each other to make the desire to play prevail over fear?

“There must not be any fear. There must be great desire. We have to stay together, with our fans, as we have done on this path. Both we and the club have made a block to experience these evenings in the best possible way. Hopefully they can give us the final that was a dream in August and now we are 180 minutes away.”

Is it an Inter similar to the one in Riyad in the SuperCoppa?

“Lukaku and Brozovic were with us for the honors. At the same time we don’t have Skriniar and Gosens. But we came there with great desire and had a great match. We will have to be good at replicating that match.”

In a month, the world has changed. What do you think compared to those moments?

“We know that we lost points in the championship. We told ourselves that we had to cover our our ears and pedal. We know that we reached another final and now a semifinal. There is a big hurdle which is Milan. In the league, the standings have changed but we have four games left.”

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